Malcolm Pein on…Taking Stock


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On a week when we have been discussing chess and technology, it is a good time to be taking stock.

It is therefore timely that we find Malcolm Pein’s latest Daily Telegraph column is all about the battle to become the strongest silicon player.

Fans of the Snake Benoni may need to look away now…

Malcolm Pein on…Taking Stock

There remains a great deal of prestige attached to the title of strongest silicon player. I was gripped by the battles between in the TCEC (Top Chess) S19 Superfinal, which saw Stockfish staying atop of the tree as it prevailed 54,5-45,5 (+18 -9 =73) in a 100-game contest.

My thanks for GM Matthew Sadler, who provides a most engaging and informative commentary on these games on Twitter. As Matthew pointed out, the computers seem to have sounded the death knell for the Snake Benoni – a tricky surprise weapon I never managed to defeat over-the-board. In the Snake Benoni, the black dark bishop is not fianchettoed, as in the Modern Benoni, or tucked away on e7, as in the Czech Benoni, but instead slithers out to a5 via d6 and c7.

Leela Zero – Stockfish

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 Bd6 6.Nf3 Bc7 7.d6 Ba5 8.e4! (Exactly what Black is trying to prevent. Black must take before e4–e5 cements d6) 8…Nxe4 9.Qe2 f5 10.Bg5 Qb6

Malcolm Pein on...Taking Stock

11.g4!! (Pretty incredible and improving on the human game. 11.0–0–0 Bxc3 12.bxc3 Qa5 13.Qc4 b5 14.Qd5 Qxc3+ 15.Kb1 Qb4+ 16.Ka1 Qc3+, which led to a draw in Goluch-Stupak, Katowice 2017) 11…0–0 (To the human eye, 11…Qxb2 12.Qxb2 Bxc3+ 13.Qxc3 Nxc3 14.Rg1 b6 15.gxf5 Bb7 looks like a better try) 12.0–0–0 Bxc3 (12…Nxc3 13.bxc3 Bxc3 14.Qc4+ wins the bishop) 13.bxc3 Nxd6 14.Rg1 (Be7 is threatened and 14…Nc6 hangs the other knight) 14…Ne4 15.Qc4+ d5 16.Rxd5 Kh8 (16…Be6 17.gxf5 Bxd5 18.Qxd5+ Kh8 19.Qxe4 wins) 17.gxf5 Nf6 18.Re5 Qd6 (18…Nc6 19.Bxf6 gxf6 20.Re8 is brutal) 19.Bf4 Nc6 (19…Qd8 20.Ng5 Nc6 21.Nf7+ Rxf7 22.Qxf7 is equally hopeless in view of 22…Nxe5 23.Qxg7#)

Test Your Strength

Leela Zero Beats Stockfish

How did Leela Zero win material?

Highlight the space below this line to check your answer.

20.Re8 Nxe8 21.Bxd6 Nxd6 22.Qg4 Nxf5 23.Bd3 g6 24.Ng5 Ne5 25.Qe4 Nxd3+ 26.Qxd3 h6 27.Ne4 Kh7 28.Nxc5 h5 29.Qf3 a5 30.Qf4 b5 31.Qg5 Rg8 32.Ne4 Ra6 33.Nf6+ Rxf6 34.Qxf6 Rg7 35.Re1 Rc7 36.Qd8 Rf7 37.Qxc8 Kg7 38.Re6 b4 39.Ra6 b3 40.Qb8 b2+

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