5 Years Engine Masters Tours

by Arno Nickel

The most powerful rapid tournament series on the web celebrated its 40th jubilee on September 15th, 2019. Most powerful? Yes, surely, alltogether - machines, engines and book - I have no doubt, the Engine Masters Tournaments show the highest level with these time controls: 12 minutes + 2 seconds increments, and more than 95% of the games have been decided by chess moves and neither by time nor by technical issues. At least, this is what we aimed at and tried our best to fulfill. The very first Engine Masters Tour took place on June 29th, 2014 with 24 players, running chess engines like Stockfish 5 and Komodo 7. The 1st winner was Marc Zerbinati from Italy under the nick Amos. Later he became even more known by developing SugaR, a famous engine derived from Stockfish. The 2nd winner of the 1st EMT has been Victorious, Gerrit Hoogeveen, Netherlands, who could repeat this success and even more (1st places) several times and is still on board like 9 other players of this memorable first EMT.

So far a bit of nostalgia ... While the number of drawn games was already high at that time (79%), it climbed up towards 90% in between. May we say "only 87%" in the last tournament, our anniverary tour with the number 40. See the following diagram, which illustrates the high number of draws, as by far most of the players gather around +1/0/-1, though they played even 13 matches.

Number of players according to their achievements:

The graphic also shows that there are no "weak" participants at all. Even those 3 players who lost 2 games cannot be called "weak", as they were able to draw all their 11 others games (or 10, as the last one played only 12 games).

The other good news of the bad story is, that the final decisions on who are the winners usually last until round 13. We had few tours, where one player had a clear lead right from the first rounds and kept it until the last round. This is no more likely nowadays, but of course possible. It would be a big sensation.

In the 40th EMT Katzenmaier, Stefan Kleinert/Germany, had an excellent start with 2 wins after 3 rounds. This looked very promising in view of the fact that only 3 other players had a +1 score at that time: Heretic (Viktor Ida/Indonesia), Marudam (Adam Pasiak/Poland) and Xeonrocks (Prasath Krishnachari/United Kongdom). Two other players, who had won in round 1, lost in round 3, Thor (Mario Radocchia/Canada) defeated by Katzenmaier, and Wolle (Wolfgang Baller/Germany) defeated by Heretic. Retrospectively it looks like round 3 did already set the course for the whole tournament, though the final decision on the top rankings took place in the last round, when Heretic beat Vimtiroba (Paulo Rocha/Brasilia).

The outcome of this positional battle was open until the endgame, when White's Eman seems to have calculated more precisely and slightly (not much) deeper than Black's Stockfish 10 with its specific (for us unknown) settings.

Heretic (2510) [Eman 4.10] - Vimtiroba [SF 10 "PS25"] (2435) [D33]

40th ENGINE MASTERS, Sunday Sept. 15, 13, 24.10.2019

Queen's Gambit / Tarrasch Defence

1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 e6 4.g3 d5 5.cxd5 exd5 6.d4 Nf6 7.Bg2 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bc5 9.Nb3 Bb6 10.Na4 0–0 11.0–0 Re8 12.Nxb6 Qxb6 13.Bg5 Ng4 14.Qxd5 Rxe2 15.Qf3 Rxb2 16.h3 Nce5 17.Qf4 Ng6 18.Qd4 Qxd4 19.Nxd4 N4e5 20.Rfb1 Rxb1+ 21.Rxb1 h6 22.Bd2 Nc4 23.Bb4 Bd7 24.Bxb7 Rb8 25.Bc5 Bc8 26.Be4 Rxb1+ 27.Bxb1 a5 28.h4 Bb7 29.Bc2 Nge5 30.Kf1




Here, I guess, Black started to play second best moves. He should have to aimed at centralising his king and taking care that White doesn't besiege his valuable a5-pawn; for example 30...Nd7 31.Ba7 (31.Be7 Bd5) 31...Kf8 32.Ba4 Ncb6

31.Ke2 g6 32.Ba7 Na3 33.Bb3 Ba6+ 34.Kd2 Nec4+ 35.Kc1 Ne5 36.Kb2 Nec4+ 37.Ka1 Ne5 38.Bb6 Nac4 39.Bc7 Nd3 40.Nc6 Nc5 41.Bc2