Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Boston Blitz vs. Dallas Destiny- FINALS!

We have a repeat between Boston and Dallas in the US Chess League Finals. The Blitz were admittedly quite lucky (and a little resourceful!) to make it past Carolina last week, but they did it. They now have a chance to take revenge on the team that battled the Blitz into the wee hours of the morning last year and ultimately took the prize away from the local team.

This match has been discussed at length by other people already. I was inspired by Alex Cherniack's lengthy computer research into a Knight and Pawn endgame. I also enjoy when the ESPN guys predict the Superbowl by playing a Playstation football game (NFL GameDay is the weapon of choice, but others work, too). I understand the virtual Superbowl prediction is almost always right. So I decided to pit the Boston Blitz vs. the Dallas Destiny in a computer match and see what happens.

The Rules-- To simulate the higher level of play (ehem?!) of the top two boards in general, I gave each side 5 minutes using the same computer engine. On the lower boards, to mix it up a bit more, I gave each computer program 1 minute. Before the games, I renamed all the engines as members of the Boston Blitz vs. the Dallas Destiny.

The Matchups:

Dallas has chosen White on Boards 2 and 4. A tie goes to an elimination playoff.

Boston Blitz Dallas Destiny
GM Larry Christiansen: 2670 IM Marko Zivanic: 2552
SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun: 2576 IM Davorin Kuljasevic: 2528
SM Marc Esserman: 2307 FM Igor Schneider: 2396
NM Ilya Krasik: 2144 WFM Bayaraa Zorigt: 2217
Avg Rating: 2424 Avg Rating: 2423

Board 1. GM Larry vs. IM Marko. In the first simulation of this matchup, computer Larry won Black's queen in 15 moves. Realizing I had made a mistake in my setup, I tried it again.

The play-by-play: Computer Larry got a slight plus out of the opening and converted it into an exchange up endgame. However, Computer Marko found a drawing try and held the position for 70+ moves! Computer Larry had a significant contempt factor built in, however, and so Computer Larry kept avoiding repetition. Finally, Computer Marko blundered a key tempo in the time scramble at the end, and C. Larry C. won! Blitz are ahead 1-0.

Board 2. Sammour-Hasbun has black against Kuljasevic. I used the same settings as on Board 1, and let it rip.

The play by play: The play was complex, with White maintaining a slight pull out of the opening. Jorge played an unusual setup (Kg8, Rh8), with the idea that h6 followed by Kh7 connected the rooks. Although slow, h7 was a safe square for the Black King, and eventually White's advantage dwindled to equality and a draw was agreed at bare kings. Blitz are ahead 1.5-0.5

Board 3. Esserman has White against Schneider. To enhance the similarity to reality, I gave Marc's game a time control of 1 minute.

The play-by-play: Much to my amusement, Computer Esserman played a gambit out of the opening! White quickly got into trouble, and at one point was evaluated at -2.5! However, the mutual time pressure was too much for Computer Schneider to handle, and Computer Marc stumbled into an extra piece and a mating attack. Blitz are ahead 2.5-0.5! It is official, Computer Blitz win!

Board 4. Krasik has white against Zorigt. Even though the Computer Blitz had already prevailed, I decided to play this game out to see what would happen.

The play-by-play: Again to my satisfaction, White jumped out to an early advantage because of inaccuracies in Computer Krasik's play. Yet somehow, Computer Krasik righted the ship, traded down into a pawn down opposite colored bishops endgame, and drew.

The Final predicted Computer Matchup is Blitz 3.0- Dallas 1.0. A Finals Blowout!

(I swear I kept the settings the same and did not give the Blitz an advantage during this simulation.)

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