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Chessengeria's Chess Engines Elite Tournament - 2023

What's the best way to celebrate the end of 2023 in Chessengeria style?

Of course, by organizing a tournament of the absolute chess engines elite ;)



This entry will be in a somewhat humorous tone and more in a relaxed vein than most of the content on chessengeria.eu. After all, I'm celebrating the new year on the pages of our blog :)


The strongest versions of the engines that have reached at least 3500 Elo on the *MCERL rating list have been invited to participate in this unique tournament.


Only about 3% of chess engines, of which there are exactly 15, can boast such tremendous strength.


Here is the list of participants in alphabetical order:


Here is the list of participants in order of Elo rating, from the strongest:


The average Elo of players at a high level of 3625 indicates that there are no random players, weak and untested engines among the participants. All of them are real "tough guys", who in many battles (thousands of games) have proven their belonging to the heavyweight category of computer chess players.


The tournament was run under the terms of MCERL, that is:



Each engine played 10 games with every other engine, making a total of 1050 chess games in this tournament. The tournament began on December 31, 2023 and ended on January 1, 2024 just after midnight.

The winner was determined with literal fireworks going on :)



Which chess engine will prove to be the winner? Which one will play the most interesting and spectacular game? Which one will impress by defeating its opponent in the shortest duel?


Before we delve into the coverage of the tournament, a few words about the participants.


Of the 15 players:

  • as many as 14 are development engines whose successive versions have been released over the past year. The exception in this group is the Revenge engine, which came out in as late as 2022, and still, despite the passage of more than 1 year, it plays with the strength to participate in the Elites tournament. The Seer 2.6 engine is a development version, just before the release of Seer 2.7 in October 2023.

  • 2 participants are commercial engines. Only two: Dragon by Komodo Chess and the aforementioned Revenge.

  • 12 participants are open-source engines.

  • Only 3 engines do not share their sources, commercial Dragon By Komodo Chess and Revenge as well as free rofChade.


This paints a picture of a very healthy situation in the world of the most powerful chess engines at the end of 2023. Most of the authors of chess engines and the communities around them take a transparent approach to sharing sources and sharing their knowledge and experiences. Anyone interested can trace how Stockfish, Berserk, or RubiChess, for example, is created. And it works! Every day newer versions of engines are published, almost every week new ones are presented. C, C++, C#, Go, Java, Pascal, Rust, Zig and others - various programming languages are being used in increasing numbers to create chess engines.


I would venture to say that the community interested in computer chess is increasingly active, and the creation and development of chess engines is gaining popularity.


And maybe, just maybe... chess engines have never played so great chess before :)

What I will show you dear reader with examples from the 2023 Elite tournament.



Category: fastest victory - Dragon 3 By Komodo Chess


White: rofChade 3.1

Black: Dragon 3 by Komodo Chess

Game length: 25 moves


Black's 22nd move.


What is there to write, the whites stand at a loss. This is the result of their several poor decisions on the Queen's wing.



22...Nf4!


Dragon does what is expected of an engine with 3700 Elo on its counter - it natively exploits weaknesses near the white King.

Three more moves and black checkmate the white King.


23.Qb2


Resistance was prolonged by 23.gxf4 with a possible continuation: 23...exf4 24.Hf3 Qh6 25.Qh3 Bd4+ 26.Be3 Qg7 27.Bxd4 Qxd4+ 28.Ne3 f3!!

rofChade probably decided (rightly) that further play would not provide a chance for survival in this game, and thus ensured Dragon by Komodo Chess victory not only in this skirmish but also in the category for the shortest game ;)


23...Qh6

And two moves to checkmate white King.


24.Bd3

Frees up the f1 square for the King.


24...Qh2+



25.Kf1


25...Qh1#

The end of this game.



25 moves, it's almost a chess miniature.

As you can see, and at this level, it is possible to finish quickly.


Download game: Fastest victory_rofChade 3.1 vs Dragon 3 by Komodo Chess

Fastest victory_rofChade 3.1 vs Dragon 3 by Komodo Chess
.zip
Download ZIP • 1KB


Category: most spectacular finish - Seer 2.6.0


Game 1

White: Seer 2.6.0

Black: Dragon 3 by Komodo Chess


White's move.


The name of the category speaks for itself, so - let's start crashing!


24.Nfxe5!


24...dxe5

Dragon must accept the sacrifice.


25.Rxe5 Re8

26. Bxh7!


26...Kxh7

Again, the sacrifice must be accepted, otherwise the situation will become even worse for blacks.


27.Nf6+!!


Another third sacrifice, and this time it should also be accepted, otherwise there will be checkmate of the black King in two moves (27...Kg6 28.Qh5+ Kxf6 29.Qf5#).


27...Qxf6


28.Qh5+

Seer includes his Queen in the immediate development of events. White has three fewer pieces.


28...Kh7


29.Rg5+ Kf8

30.Rf5


White's last move put the black Queen in a lost position. Soon Seer will begin to make up material losses without letting the opponent's King breathe for a moment.


30...Bd8

Dragon was left with few options.


Due to black's stubbornness in continuing this lost game, the game lasted several dozen more moves. Probably Dragon by Komodo Chess couldn't get out of the shock that another engine, which is not Stockfish, could win with it in such a style ;)


Below are some final moments of this skirmish:


35Qxf5+


41.Qxd6


55.Bd4


61.Be3#


Absolute destruction...!


A big applause for the Seer chess engine :)

This is probably not what Dragon By Komodo Chess expected when playing against a theoretically weaker opponent.


Download game: Most Spectacular Finish_Game_1_Seer 2.6.0 vs Dragon 3 by Komodo Chess

Most Spectacular Finish_Game_1_Seer 2.6.0 vs Dragon 3 by Komodo Chess
.zip
Download ZIP • 2KB


Category: most spectacular finish - RubiChess 20231230


Game 2

White: RubiChess 20231230

Black: Seer 2.6.0


White's move.


And this time one of the participants in an interesting game is the Seer engine, although by a twist of fate, it is to RubiChess in this skirmish that the chess goddess smiles ;)


23.Rxg7+!


RubiChess smelled "chess blood".... No discount - smash the defense and get to the opponent's King!


23...Kxg7


What's next? How to lead the attack, maybe 24.Bxh6+ or 24.Re3, hmmm.... Are white sure they've calculated their forces well against their intentions?


24.Nxd6!


This is an important and meddlesome move. Knight is invulnerable, if black decides to take the white Knight 24...Qxd6 then in response 25.Bxh6+ with the loss of the black Queen in the next moves.


24.Kh7

The Black King steps off the square of fire of the white Bishop (h6).



25.Bc3


Perfectly timed. White Bishop does nothing on the h6 square, changes his position occupying the best diagonal at that moment.


25...Ng6

26.Qd4


increasing the pressure on Knigt f6 and creating potential checkmate threats on the g7 square.


26...Nh5

27.Bxg6+ Kxg6


28.Rxe4!!

A unique sacrifice of the white Rook. RubiChess throws all its forces into the attack.


28...Qe7

Correct. If 28...fxe4 then 29.Qxe4+ Kg5 30.h4#


29.Nxf5!


29....Rxf5

Any other move by the blacks leads to a faster defeat.


30. g4 Qg5

31.h4


Cool position, two white pawns attack three black pieces.


This is great illustration of the meaning of a chess attack on the position of the opponent's King. Even if not everything can be counted, in the situation when one or more foreign pieces do not participate in the defense, then it is worth the risk.


31...c5

32.Qd1 Rd8

33.Qb1 Qe7


34.gxf5+


Taking a pawn leads to checkmate in three moves: 34...Kxf5 35.Re5+ Kg4 36.Qf5+ Kxh4 37.Qxh5#


34...Kh7

35.f6


White dominance. Two advanced Pawns and the exposed position of the black King.


35...Nxf6

36.Rf4 Kg8


37.Bxf6

Black got the checkmate within a few moves.


46.h5#


This is what a chess engine with over 3700 Elo on the strength meter is capable of, precise, unforgiving, making maximum use of available resources - this is what RubiChess is !


Download game: Most Spectacular Finish_Game_2_RubiChess 20231230 vs Seer 2.6.0

Most Spectacular Finish_Game_2_RubiChess 20231230 vs Seer 2.6.0
.zip
Download ZIP • 1KB


Category: most interesting game - Black Marlin 8.0


White: Black Marlin 8.0

Black: Alexandria 5.1.1


12.d5


Black Marlin chose the Spanish game, a closed variant (Chigorin). This system is often characterized by complex play, full of figurative maneuvers with many opportunities for both sides.


14...Ne8

First little surprise.


In these kinds of positions, usually black decides, for example, ...Nfd7 or ...c4 to initiate developments on the Queen's wing (occupation of the c5 square by Knight, etc.).

Whether Alexandria plans to ...f5 in the future, we will see.


15.a4

Better than passive Nbd2.


17...Rb8


Black is playing actively. More and more opportunities are born on the chessboard.


19...f5

And yet! This is a much more interesting than 19...Nb3 or 19...h6.


Pawn's temporary sacrifice on f5 is intended to weaken the important d5 square on which white Pawn stands. If black succeeds in occupying this square, it may gain an advantage by breaking up Chigorin's closed variant.


20.exf5

Not accepting black Pawn could weaken white's abilities on the King's wing, such as 20.Bg5 and strong 20...f4!



20...h6

21.Nd2 Bg5

22.g4 Bxd2

23.Bxd2 c4



The situation is escalating.

In the meantime, white defended its Pawn f5 and started offensive actions through 22.g4. Black, on the other hand, set up exchanged their weak black-square Bishop for a strong Knight d2 and set up better and better squares.


24.Be3 Bb7

25.Rad1 Nf6

26.Qf3


Black strengthens the pressure on the d5 square. White defends this square where their Pawn stands.


26...Ba8

27.Kh2 Rb2!=


The position is balanced, although increasingly complicated.


As correct a heavy figure move as possible; perhaps hoping for 28.h4 which would allow black to play a strong 28...e4!


28.Bc1 Rbb8?!


Black's first a weaker move. Rook's retreat is a loss of tempo.


Better to brave 28...Ra2! and accept the loss of Rook in exchange for Bishop but in keeping with the spirit of breaking Chigorin's variant, Alexandria could gain the important point on the chessboard that is d5.


Possible continuation: 28...Ra2! 29.Bb1 Ra1 30.Bb2 Rxb1 31.Nxb1 Nb7 32.Ba3 Nd8 33.Nd2 Bxd5 -> with equal position (2 free and strong black Pawn in the center)

Diagram formed after 33...Bxd5 at the end of a possible continuation


Back in the game.

29.g5


Black Marlin immediately seizes the opportunity and launches offensive operations on the King's wing.


29...hxg5

30.Rg1 Qc5

31.Rxg5 Bxd5


Alexandria finally managed to capture a key point on the chessboard - d5. So should black be satisfied with the position obtained? Comparing the current position to the position obtained at Rook's price (diagram above), I think not. Now white has a highway for its heaviest figures leading directly to the black King.


Anyway, it's getting more and more interesting, with both sides having a lot of possibilities.


32.Qg3 Rf7

33.Rg1 Rb7



In response to the powerful white pressure, black defends Pawn g7 by doubling on the seventh line both Rook; this is not the end of their possibilities - the black Queen can also join in to support the defense from the c7 square. Black's defense seems to be strong enough to protect their King.


This kind of position is such a good illustration of how an early loss of one tempo can enable the other side to take the initiative.


34.Rg6?!


Like black before, with this move white loses tempo, their onslaught will slow down.

Due to the effective defense of Pawn g7 protecting the black King, it seems more logical to shift their forces to the h-line via 34.Qh4 and attach the future to the play of both Bishops on the c1-h6 and d1-h5 diagonals.


34...Nc6

35.Qh4 e4!


Good move! Limits the white Bishop c2 and frees the e5 square for the black Knight.


In my opinion, the position is close to full equalization. Some chess engines indicate white's advantage, although after a longer analysis it is clear that black is able to hold.


36.Rh6


Another interesting move was 36.Bd1, which led to further maneuvers.


36...Kf8=

The perfect moment to reposition the black King. The position is equal.


This is the culmination of this game.


The white's efforts, while ingenious, have not yet given them a decisive advantage.

Black, on the other hand, having lost tempo earlier, activates his forces in the last moves and improves its position from move to move.

Unless Black Marlin does something decisive, the game will end in a draw at best, yet there is no shortage of weaknesses in his camp: Pawn f2, f5, Knight a3 out of play.


37.Rxg7!!


What an impact, what a sacrifice :)


Two exclamation marks for this move, not because it's a finishing and winning move, but because it's the only one that gives white a chance to win. A beautiful move, a risky move, a creative move - one that can bring out the balance, one that can lead to a win.... or a loss.

Black Marlin throws the gloves in Alexandria's face.


37...Kxg7?


The mistake that white was waiting for. Probably black was counting on 38.Rh8 Qxf2+ 39.Qxf2 Kxh8=)


The balance was maintained by 37...Rxg7! with a possible continuation 38.Qxf6+ Kg8 39.Be3 Qxa3 40.Qh4 Rh7! 41.Bxe4 Bxe4 42.Rxh7 Rxh7 43.Qxe4 Qxc3 44.Qe8+ Kg7=


38.Be3!+-


38...Ne5!


39.Bd1!


If white takes the Queen 39.Bxc5, then 39...Nf3+ 40.Kg3 Nxh4 41.Rxh4 dxc5-+


39...Qc6

40.Rh8 Ng8

41.Qh7+ Kf6


42.Qxg8

A winning position for the whites. Two Bishops are just waiting to join in knocking down the black monarch.


42....Rg7

43.Qd8+ Kxf5

44.Rh5+ Ke6

45.Nc2 Nd7

46.Qe8+ Kf6

47.Rh6+


47...Rg6

48.Rxg6+ Kf5

49.Nd4#


Exquisitely flavored checkmate!


This game, one of more than a thousand from this tournament, appealed to me.

This game lasted about 4 minutes.


Welcome to the world of computer chess, where art is painted with the chess moves of man's works!

Thunderous applause for both players of this battle. This time, it was Black Marlin who proved superior, taking risks against a very strong opponent.


Download game: Most Interesting Game_Black Marlin 8.0 vs Alexandria 5.1.1

Most Interesting Game_Black Marlin 8.0 vs Alexandria 5.1.1
.zip
Download ZIP • 1KB


Category: tournament winner - Stockfish 20231230


Here is the scoreboard of the Chessengeria's Chess Engines Elite Tournament - 2023.


Table with results created in Banksia GUI



Stockfish has not lost a single game!!

Its domination was evident in each of the mini-matches, from which it emerged victorious against each opponent.


Table with results created in Banksia GUI


Congratulations for the achieved result and words of appreciation to the Creators of this remarkable chess engine :)


Let's see how Stockfish, the winner of the Chess Engines Elite tournament, can play - the only chess engine in this tournament at a ranking level exceeding 3800 Elo.


White: Stockfish 20231230

Black: Altair 6.0.0


White's move.

In this game, we see the King's Indian opening in a classic variant.


11.a4


A natural move inherent in the strategy of this opening. White usually seeks to be more active on the Queen's wing, black, on the contrary, on the King's wing.


11...a5

12.b5 b6


13.Ra3

Taking advantage of the space gained, Stockfish launches a heavy figure early in the game. It's an interesting idea, the white Rook looks from the a3 square to the King's wing as well.


13...h6

14.exf5 Bxf5

15.h3 Nf6


16.g4

You can feel the confidence of the whites. They seize the space without hesitation.

This is, so to speak, a provocation for black to take offensive action centered on Pawn g4.


16...Bd7

Of course, it's not worth giving up a figure for Pawn g4 at this moment.


17.Bd3 Qe8

18.Nh2

It supports Pawn g4 and frees up space to use Pawn f2.


18...Qf7

19.Qc2 h5


Altair builds tension by attacking Pawn g4.


The situation on the chessboard looks promising for both sides of the game.


20.f3

Does Knight on the h2 square occupy the wrong position? Absolutely, no. It serves the important function of protector of the important g4 square.


20...Kh8

21.Re2


Here's a Stockfish-level move from 2023!


Quiet, inconspicuous, not bringing anything new - it's just appearances. A very strong move, from a strategic point of view, like Rook a3, it performs many functions will be prepared to penetrate the f, g and h lines, at the end of which is the black King.


21...Ng8

22.Ne4


Go forward!


White has made adequate preparations beforehand, now it's time for confrontation.

The position is even.


22...Bh6

23.Ng5 Bxg5


Good. Black removes Knight, who could cause trouble.


24.Bxg5 Nf6

25.Bh6


It targets the g7 and f8 squares, probably with no intention of taking the black Rook.

In this position, Bishop h6 is powerful, stronger than black Rook.


25...Nh7?

Not the best move. More advisable would have been 25...Qh7 with possible continuation 26.Qd2 Rf7 27.Rg2 and regrouping of forces.


26.f4!


A sharp spike from Stockfish! A nice sacrifice by Pawn to occupy the most important diagonal a1-h8 which, in cooperation with Bishop h6, tilts the balance of victory to the white side.


26...exf4

27.Qb2+ Kg8


28.gxh5

Releases the g4 square for the white Knight.


28...g5

29.Ng4 Nf5


Altair is fed up with Bishop's h6, which is so strong that it engages its Queen to defend the g7 square to defend against checkmate.


30.Bxf8 Qxf8

31.Ra1


I encourage you, dear reader, to pay attention to the movements of both Rook by Stockfish. There is no coincidence here. Now this Rook is heading to the e1 square aiming to play one of the remaining acrodes of this game.


31...Ng3?!


Black would have resisted longer by playing 31...Ne3.


32.Re7!


Rook is untouchable. If 32...Qxe7 then 33.Nh6+ Kf8 34.Qh8#.


32...Bf5

33.Rae1! Bxd3


34.R1e6

Excellent interaction between the two white Rooks.

34...Ne2+

35.Kh2 c5

Altair cannot prevent checkmate.


36.bxc6 Ra7

37.Rxa7 Ng3

38.Re8!


38...Nf1+

If 38...Qxe8 then 39.Qg7#


39.Kg1 Nf6

40.Nxf6 Kh8


41.Rxf8#


Great ending to the symphony played by Stockfish :)

Extraordinary depth of strategy, sense of position and precise tactics.


And all this in a game with such a fast speed, where the engines have 1 minute to think at the beginning + 0.6 seconds after each move.


Download game: Tournament Winner Game_Stockfish 20231230 vs Altair 6.0.0

Tournament Winner Game_Stockfish 20231230 vs Altair 6.0.0
.zip
Download ZIP • 1KB


As we approach the end of the summary of the 2023 Chess Engines Elite Tournament, I would like to highlight the Berserk 12 engine's winning of second place in this heavily attended tournament.

Berserk 12 has made it clear that it is currently number 2 in the world of computer chess.

The difference of 9.5 points between Berserk 12, second in the scoreboard, and Dragon 3 by Komodo Chess taking the third position makes a significant difference when comparing this to other engines further down the table, where the point differences are on a much smaller scale.


Congratulations to Berserk 12, its author Jay Honnold and everyone involved in the development of this incredibly powerful chess engine :)


A surprise for me is the third place Dragon 3 by Komodo Chess.

Month after month on the MCERL rating list, Dragon 3 by Komodo Chess is being pushed further and further out of the top spot by newer and more advanced versions of RubiChess (4th place) and Clover (5th place). As you can see, the old Master is not going to let go just yet.

Respect!


There is no doubt in my mind that the top 5, viz: Stockfish, Berserk, Dragon, RubiChess and Clover are the strongest chess engines for 2023/2024.


I am pleased to see that each of them is natively available not only for Mac users but also for other platforms running, for example, Windows and various Linux distributions increasingly used by computer chess enthusiasts.



Congratulations to all the participants of the Chess Engines Elite Tournament - 2023 and their authors!


Taking the opportunity that this is the first entry this year on our blog, I wish you dear reader all the best in the new 2024!



Download the database of all Chess Engines Elite Tournament 2023 games

Chess Engines Elite Tournament 2023
.zip
Download ZIP • 396KB

 


* The rating of the 15 chess engines was determined according to the current MCERL as of 2023-12-31.


** Diagrams created in the ChessX.

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