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What Chess Can Teach Us About the Future of AI and War – War on the Rocks

Posted: January 3, 2020 at 10:47 am


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This article was submitted in response to the call for ideas issued by the co-chairs of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, Eric Schmidt and Robert Work. It addresses the first question (part a.), which asks how will artificial intelligence affect the character and/or the nature of war.

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Will artificial intelligence (AI) change warfare? Its hard to say. AI itself is not new the first AI neural network was designed in 1943. But AI as a critical factor in competitions is relatively novel and, as a result, theres not much data to draw from. However, the data that does exist is striking. Perhaps the most interesting examples are in the world of chess. The game has been teaching military strategists the ways of war for hundreds of years and has been a testbed for AI development for decades.

Military officials have been paying attention. Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work famously used freestyle (or Centaur) chess to promote the third offset strategy, where humans and computers work together, combining human strategy and computer speed to eliminate blunders while allowing humans to focus on the big picture. Since then, AI and supercomputers have continued to reshape how chess is played. Technology has helped to level the playing field the side with the weaker starting position is no longer at such a disadvantage. Likewise, intimidation from the threat of superhuman computers has occasionally led to some unorthodox behaviors, even in human-only matches.

The experience of AI in the chess world should be instructive for defense strategists. As AI enters combat, it will first be used just in training and in identifying mistakes before they are made. Next, improvements will make it a legitimate teammate, and if it advances to superhuman ability in even narrow domains of warfighting, as it has in chess then it could steer combat in directions that are unpredictable for both humans and machines.

What Does Chess Say About AI-Human Interaction?

Will AI replace soldiers in war? The experience of using AI and machine learning in chess suggests not. Even though the best chess today is played by computers alone, humans remain the focus of the chess world. The world computer chess championship at the International Conference on Machine Learning in Stockholm attracted a crowd of only three when I strolled by last year. In contrast, the human championship was streamed around the globe to millions. In human-only chess though, AI features heavily in the planning process, the results of which are called prep. Militaries are anticipating a similar planning role for AI, and even automated systems without humans rely on a planning process to provide prep for the machines. The shift toward AI for that process will affect how wars are fought.

To start, computers are likely to have an equalizing effect on combat as they have had in chess. The difference in ability among the top competitors in chess has grown smaller, and the advantage of moving first has become less advantageous. That was evident in last years human-only chess championship where competitors had the closest ratings ever in a championship, and the best-of-12 match had 12 straight draws for the first time. There have been more draws than wins in every championship since 2005, and though it is not exactly known why, many believe it is due to the influence of superhuman computers aiding underdogs, teaching defensive play, or simply perfecting the game.

AI is likely to level the military playing field because progress is being driven by commercial industry and academia which will likely disseminate their developments more widely than militaries. That does not guarantee all militaries will benefit equally. Perhaps some countries could have better computers or will be able to pay for more of them, or have superior data to train with. But the open nature of computing resources makes cutting-edge technology available to all, even if that is not the only reason for equalization.

AI Favors the Underdog and Increases Uncertainty

AI seems to confer a distinct benefit to the underdog. In chess, black goes second and is at a significant disadvantage as a result. Fabiano Caruana, a well-known American chess player, claimed that computers are benefiting black. He added that computer analysis helps reveal many playable variations and moves that were once considered dubious or unplayable. In a military context, the ways to exert an advantage can be relatively obvious, but AI planning tools could be adept at searching and evaluating the large space of possible courses of action for the weaker side. This would be an unwelcome change for the United States, which has benefited from many years of military superiority.

Other theories exist for explaining the underdogs improvement in chess. It may be that computers are simply driving chess toward its optimum outcome, which some argue is a tie. In war it could instead be that perfect play leads to victory rather than a draw. Unlike chess, the competitors are not constrained to the same pieces or set of moves. Then again, in a limited war where mass destruction is off the table, both sides aim to impose their will while restricting their own pieces and moves. If perfect play in managing escalation does lead to stalemate, then AI-enhanced planning or decision-making could drive toward that outcome.

However, superhuman computers do not always drive humans toward perfect play and can in fact drive them away from it. This happened in a bizarre turn in last years chess world championship, held in London. The Queens Gambit Declined, one of the most famous openings that players memorize, was used to kick off the second of the 12 games in the London match, but on the tenth move, the challenger, Caruana, playing as black, didnt choose either of the standard next moves in the progression. During planning, his computers helped him find a move that past centuries had all but ignored. When the champion Magnus Carlsen, who is now the highest-rated player in history, was asked how he felt upon seeing the move, he recounted being so worried that his actual response cant be reproduced here.

It is not so much that Caruana had found a new move that was stronger than the standard options. In fact, it may have even been weaker. But it rattled Carlsen because, as he said, The difference now is that Im facing not only the analytical team of Fabiano himself and his helpers but also his computer help. That makes the situation quite a bit different. Carlsen suddenly found himself in a theater without the aid of electrical devices, having only his analytical might against what had become essentially a superhuman computer opponent.

His response might presage things to come in warfare. The strongest moves available to Carlsen were ones that the computer would have certainly analyzed and his challenger would have prepared for. Therefore, Carlsens best options were either ones that were certainly safe or ones that were strange enough that they would not have been studied by the computer.

When asked afterward if he had considered a relatively obvious option that he didnt chose seven moves later in the game, Carlsen joked that Yeah, I have some instincts I figured that [Caruana] was still in prep and that was the perfect combination. Fear of the computer drove the champion, arguably historys best chess player, to forego a move that appeared to be the perfect combination in favor of a safer defensive position, a wise move if Caruana was in fact still in prep.

In war, there will be many options for avoiding the superhuman computing abilities of an adversary. A combatant without the aid of advanced technology may choose to withdraw or retreat upon observing the adversary doing something unexpected. Alternatively, the out-computed combatant might drive the conflict toward unforeseen situations where data is limited or does not exist, so as to nullify the role of the computer. That increases uncertainty for everyone involved.

How Will the U.S. Military Fare in a Future AI World?

The advantage may not always go the competitor with the most conventional capabilities or even the one that has made the most computing investment. Imagine the United States fighting against an adversary that can jam or otherwise interfere with communications to those supercomputers. Warfighters may find themselves, like Carlsen, in a theater without the aid of their powerful AI, up against the full analytical might of the adversary and their team of computers. Any unexpected action taken by the adversary at that point (e.g., repositioning their ground troops or launching missile strikes against unlikely locations) would be cause for panic. The natural assumption would be that adversary computers found a superior course of action that had accounted for the most likely American responses many moves into the future. The best options then, from the U.S. perspective, become those that are either extremely cautious, or those that are so unpredictable that they would not have been accounted for by either side.

AI-enabled computers might be an equalizer to help underdogs find new playable options. However, this isnt the only lesson that chess can teach us about the impact of AI-enabled supercomputers and war. For now, while humans still dominate strategy, there will still be times where the computer provides advantages in speed or in avoiding blunders. When the computer overmatch becomes significant and apparent, though, strange behaviors should be expected from the humans.

Ideally, humans deprived of their computer assistants would retreat or switch to safe and conservative decisions only. But the rules of war are not as strict as the rules of chess. If an enemy turns out to be someone aided by feckless computers, instead of superhuman computers aided by feckless humans, it may be wise to anticipate more inventive perhaps even reckless human behavior.

Andrew Lohn is a senior information scientist at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation. His research topics have included military applications of AI and machine learning. He is also co-author of How Might Artificial Intelligence Affect the Risk of Nuclear War? (RAND, 2018).

Image: U.S. Marine Corps (Photo by Lance Cpl. Scott Jenkins)

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What Chess Can Teach Us About the Future of AI and War - War on the Rocks

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January 3rd, 2020 at 10:47 am

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World title triumph was unexpected success: Koneru Humpy – Times of India

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CHENNAI: India's newest world champion Koneru Humpy says it was a dream to win a world title but the triumph in the blitz format surprised even herself as she was always a contender in the classical format.

Humpy capped the 2019 in a stunning fashion since she made a comeback to the sport this year after starting a family.

"This is my first world title. People were expecting me to become a world champion for a long and it really came unexpected. I was not favourite in the rapid tournament. I finished well in the final standings and it went into the tie-break," Humpy told PTI after returning from Moscow.

She had finished 12th in the blitz event that followed the triumph in rapid format.

The Vijayawada-based Humpy said she has unfinished business in winning the world title classical format and she will strive to achieve that.

She had lost in the world championship final in classical format to Hou Yifan in 2011.

"I was always the contender but I did not become the champion. I came close to it. I will continue playing and fighting for that. It will come, when it has to. It is a totally different challenge for the classical world title. You need different types of skills for different formats. I will continue to give my best to realise that one big goal."

About being away from the game and what motivated her to make a comeback, the 32-year old, who has a two-year old daughter, said she had never quit the sport.

"I always wanted to come back and it was planned. Once she (my daughter) was born, I thought after she was one-year-old, I decided to start playing tournaments. But, of course, the first few tournaments were bad performance for me.

"Obviously with a break, playing at a higher professional level, it is expected that it is not easy to succeed. From January onwards, I started doing well. I started off with Gibraltar and did pretty well there."

Her major victories were in the women's Grand Prix in September in Russia and joint first finish at Monaco Grand Prix. She was also the best foreign player in the Chinese League, where she remained unbeaten.

"Overall, I had a good performance in the year (2019) with a gain of 30 rating points in classical and around 45 points in rapid."

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World title triumph was unexpected success: Koneru Humpy - Times of India

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Nike, The International, and Auto Chess2019’s Top 10 Esports Business Stories in China (5-1) – The Esports Observer

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League/Tournament Brands:

In part one of our top 10 esports business stories from China (which you can read right here), we detailed five of the most important stories of 2019 from the region.

Those included team investments and major international wins, plus one of the industrys largest multi-million dollar media rights deals to date.

In this second half looking back at the milestones of Chinas esports business in 2019, all but one of the top five stories involve Tencent, Riot Games, and League of Legends in some way.

Here are the top five entries in the top 10 esports business stories of 2019 in China.

Between August 20-25, game publisher Valve hosted Dota 2s The International Shanghai (TI9) at Shanghais Mercedes-Benz Arena. TI9 was the first event of its kind to be hosted in China in nine years, and also the first esports tournament in which the winner could win over 100M ($14.31M) in prize money in China. Eventually, esports organization OG took home $15.5M of the $34M prize pool and became the only organization to win the TI championship for two consecutive years. OG and its players also ranked #1 in The Esports Observers Top 10 Esports Players and Teams of 2019 by Total Prize Winnings.

Since 2011, The International has broken its own record as the highest esports prize pool tournament every year. This time, TI9 surpassed the $30M Fortnite World Cup and kept its crown.

However, the event not only broke the record, but also broke hearts. The event showed a significant lack of control in ticket sales, which led to a serious problem for fans trying to attend the event.e. In September, the League of Legends community also reported ticket sales issues during the 2019 World Championship, highlighting a growing issue within top-esports events.

In the past three years, the Tencent Global Esports Annual Summit has become the most significant esports conference and summit in China. On June 20, Tencent Holdings first detailed at the summit that it earned $66M from media rights and another $64M from sponsorship deals related to its esports operations in the first half of 2019.

In addition, TJ Sports released a while paper for League of Legends esports, reporting that the 2017 LPL Summit Split contributed 3B ($436M) media value for itself and its six official partners, including Jeep. Mercedes-Benz also received approximately 600M ($87.2M) in media value as the official Chinese partner of the 2017 League of Legends World Championship.

TJ Sports also revealed that the company would open bids for one-two new franchise spots in the 2020 LPL. In December, Wuhan-based esports organization eStar became one of the new teams in the 2020 LPL.

On Jan. 10, Tencent Holding and game publisher Riot Games established a joint venture called TengJing (TJ Sports) in Shanghai. The companys main focus in 2019 was on the League of Legends relevant esports business in China, including tournament organizing, and talent management. Tencent and Riot Games equally hold 50% of shares in the venture. In addition, TJ Sports named Jin Bobby Yibo and Lin Leo Song as the co-CEOs of the company, and announced Mercedes-Benz as the head partner of the LPL.

The establishment of TJ Sports could be considered the beginning of major Chinese esports business news in 2019. It also signals that both companies want to entirely separate esports from the gaming industry, and create an exclusive space for League of Legends esports. In June, TJ Sports partnered with Riot Games to create the 2020 League of Legends World Championship Committee, which will co-host the 2020 World Championship in China.

In February, one month after TJ Sports established, the company brought global sportswear brand Nike to the sponsors list of LPL. Nike is now the exclusive apparel sponsor of the LPL from 2019-2022.

According to Chinese media outlet Lanxiong Sports, the deal was valued at 50M ($7.48M) a year, including cash and equivalent products. Sources close to the deal also confirmed these details with The Esports Observer.

For a long time, people were struggling to evaluate the sponsorship value of Chinese esports. For the first time, Chinas esports industry saw a shadow of what might be if it reaches the heights of a traditional sports league. For example, Nike signed a 10-year sponsorship deal with the Chinese Football Association Super League in 2018, for 300M ($45M) a year.

The deal also started an apparel business competition in esports in the region. Brands and the industry started to consider what should esports apparel line look like? In April, Nike unveiled its first LPL co-branded t-shirt called Gamer to the public. In September, the company unveiled all 16 LPL team uniforms, featuring a wide V style with the Nike Swoosh and LPL logo, but no team sponsors logos.

Another major Chinese apparel brand Li-Ning also created its own esports apparel line with multiple Chinese esports organizations. Compared with Nike, Li-Ning decided to direct sponsor teams and players, even acquiring LPL team Snake. (Snake was later rebranded to LNG).

What is going to be the next big esport? No individual or organization is 100% sure how to answer this question. If 2018 was about the rise of the battle royale genre (games such as Fortnite and PLAYERUNKNOWNS BATTLEGROUNDS), then 2019 belongs to the auto battler genre, and it all came from a Dota 2 mod called Dota Auto Chess.

On Jan. 4, an unknown game was released in the Dota 2 game system. Dota Auto Chess was designed by a five-man Chinese game studio Drodo Studio, and in only a month reached a peak of more than 300K concurrent players and 4.13M subscribers, globally.

For a while, Dota Auto Chess became the hottest card-style game not only Chinese live streaming platform Douyu and Huya, but also on Twitch. The huge success attracted plenty of partnership offers from game publishers, most notably Valve and Tencent. In March, Drodo Studio decided to partner with Chinese tournament organizer ImbaTV and game company Long Mobile to develop a mobile game called Auto Chess, and unveiled a $1M Auto Chess Invitational esports competition in Shanghai.

Meanwhile, Valve and Riot Games started to develop their own standalone versions inspired by Dota Auto Chess. A new game genre was officially born the auto battler, complete with competition from game publishers around the world.

At time of writing, Riot Games has developed Teamfight Tactics (TFT), which was directly inspired by the popular Dota 2 mod. The game had massive viewership on Twitch at launch and Riot Games claimed that the company would double down on developing TFTs esports scene.

Valve developed Dota Underloads, which also featured a 5K ($5.7K) esports competition at the ESL ONE Hamburg Dota 2 event. Blizzard Entertainment also announced an auto battler mode in Hearthstone called Hearthstone Battlegrounds at BlizzCon 2019. Despite the fact that Tencent owns Riot Games and indirectly owns TFT, the company has added an auto battler mode into its Honor of Kings system called Kings Simulation Battle.

In many ways, the phenomenon of Dota Auto Chess is the best underdog story not only the Chinese esports industry, but also the gaming industry as a whole. Despite the fact that the Chinese game publisher Tencent indirectly owns most of the esports titles including League of Legends, Fortnite, Clash Royale, Rocket League, PUBG, and CrossFire, Tencent still has not developed an esports title from China that has found worldwide appeal. Dota Auto Chess was actually the first game with a worldwide player base that can also boast made in China.

It is still too early to say that the auto battler genre is the next esport, however. Looking on TEOs retrospective of esports history, its easy to see that an esports success is defined by the community rather than game publishers. The success of the auto battler as a genre can not only credit those five Chinese developers from Drodo Studio, but also the esports community, who embraced this clever game mod.

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Nike, The International, and Auto Chess2019's Top 10 Esports Business Stories in China (5-1) - The Esports Observer

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Bill Perkins And Chess.com To Launch Skylar Chess Fest In Houston – Chess.com

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Chess.com and Bill Perkins to launch Skylar Chess Fest in Houston April-May 2020.

San Francisco, Dec. 27. 2019Some of the world's biggest celebrities and chess starswill travel to Houston to take part in a first-of-its-kind event, the co-organizers announced today.

This event will feature celebrities from sports, music, poker and chess with activities planned throughout the weekend to celebrate chess. A group of super-grandmasters vying for their piece of a $150,000 prize fund will play an elite rapid and blitz tournament.

Bill Perkins, the hedge fund manager and poker star, contributed $150,000 towards the prize fund, which will be available to be donated by the winners to various charities to support chess around the world. The four-day event kicks off with a gala on April 30, followed by the three days of events at the Westin Galleria Hotel and will be broadcast live exclusively at Chess.com/TV.

Editor's Note: Want to be notified when tickets go on sale?Click here!

Various tournaments, guest speakers, a silent auction and a scholarship tournament will headline the festivities, including a pro-am event featuring six of the world's best chess players and six celebrities. The marquee event, a rapid and blitz tournament, will feature one of the biggest prize funds of the year and some of the top players in the world. Regular and VIP passes will be available for purchase in early January and demand is expected to be high while availability will be limited.

Bill Perkins, founder and manager of Skylar Capital, commented on his motivation to organize this special event: "I'm very excited to partner with Chess.com to promote chess and support charitable causes at the same time in the dynamic city of Houston, Texas. Looking forward to a fun format and meeting chess lovers from around the globe."

A scholarship tournament funded by Perkins will be a highlight during the event. Young chess players from across Houston will compete for their piece of a $10,000 scholarship fund, which will promote academic excellence through chess.

Chess.com will act as the official organizing partner and technology platform for the event, managing the chess activities on site with its events team. A commentary team featuring IM Danny Rensch will call all the action for the elite rapid and blitz tournament from the Westin Galleria, which will also be broadcast live across Chess.com's video platforms and Chess.com/TV.

Among the celebrities expected to attend are Houston sports stars, professional poker players, Houston musical artists and other influential people from around the world.

A later release containing ticketing information will be published after the new year and will provide a link to purchase passes for this groundbreaking event.

Contact:

Nick BartonDirector of Events & Business Development, Chess.come-mail: nick@chess.comphone: (800) 318-2827

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Bill Perkins And Chess.com To Launch Skylar Chess Fest In Houston - Chess.com

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What happened in Carlsen vs. Firouzja? – chess24

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Magnus Carlsens triumph in the 2019 World Blitz Championship owed a lot to his win against Alireza Firouzja with just three rounds to go. 16-year-old Firouzja had been winning the game at various moments and would never have lost the final position but when he knocked over a king and his flag dropped the game was adjudicated as a win for the World Champion. International Arbiter Alberto Muiz explains why that was the correct decision and how the rules apply something we may all need a refresher course on seeing as even a 2700+ rated prodigy was confused!

by IA Alberto Muiz

Once again we had an interesting case involving arbiters at the World Rapid and Blitz Championship, and once again it was in a game of Magnus Carlsens. The World Champion was previously a participant in a curious double illegal move incident in his game against Ernesto Inarkiev in the first round of the 2017 World Blitz Championship in Riyadh. Ernesto gave a check while in check (!), Magnus moved out of the check and Ernesto then claimed a win for his opponent's illegal move! Chief Arbiter Takis Nikolopoulos intervened to suggest the players continue the game, but Ernesto appealed, had the appeal denied and lost the game instead.

This time round the action again took place in blitz (3 minutes per player with a 2-second increment after each move) on the top board during Round 19 of 21in Moscow. There was, of course, a huge amount at stake. 16-year-old Alireza Firouzja from Iran was playing White and trying to win an opposite-coloured bishop endgame with three extra pawns, but he was also in time trouble. After some earlier moments when he misplaced his pieces, he finally knocked over his king while playing 66.Kg4, and his flag dropped before the three seconds it took him to put it back and hit the clock.

The final position after Magnus replied 66Bd2 was as follows:

What should the result of the game have been? Does White lose on time? Is it a draw because Black has no material with which to give mate? Lets take a look at the key article of the FIDE Laws of Chess.

6.9 Except where one of the Articles: 5.1.a, 5.1.b, 5.2.a, 5.2.b, 5.2.c applies, if a player does not complete the prescribed number of moves in the allotted time, the game is lost by the player. However, the game is drawn, if the position is such that the opponent cannot checkmate the players king by any possible series of legal moves.

Its not relevant for our case, but the articles 5.1.a and so on refer to a game that ends in checkmate, stalemate or in some other manner. The critical point of the article is that the player whose time has run out always loses UNLESS his opponent has no possibility of giving mate, however remote that may be (a previous version of the FIDE Arbiters Manual included, even by the most unskilled play).

Applying the article its clear that Carlsen wins, since there are possible mates. For example:

Chief ArbiterTakis Nikolopoulosmade the correct decision and even showed the relevant law to Firouzja after the game, and after some deliberation an appeal by Firouzja (based on being disturbed by Magnus speaking during the game, not the final position) was rejected and the game was declared won by Black. I dont want to stop there, however, and would like to take this opportunity to explain a little more about this area of the laws of chess, since many players are unclear about it.

The regulations make no mention anywhere of having enough material to give mate, only that the game is drawn, if the position is such that the opponent cannot checkmate the players king by any possible series of legal moves. If the flag falls you only draw the game if its totally impossible to lose, even, we might say, on purpose. But the false rumour of being able to draw based on the remaining material alone is widespread, and partly fuelled by the different conventions of internet chess.

Of course the wording can give rise to controversial cases like this one, where many feel its unfair that White loses while having a bishop and three pawns. In fact without the piece and pawns for White it would be a draw note, however, that its still possible to mate if White had no pawns but just a bishop e.g.

However, the rule has a key advantage its objective. You cant have regulations that apply only to a particular position, and the current wording allows all of the worlds arbiters to take the same decision in a game involving any players. Because yes, no-one has any doubt that Firouzja would never have lost the game if it was played out, but where do we draw the line? What happens if youre in a rook ending which has reached the Philidor position? A draw if a grandmaster loses on time, but a defeat if it involves a beginner? Or Rook + Bishop vs. Rook in a position which is a theoretical draw? It would be impossible to define which positions are draws and for whom. The current rule is simplistic, but it has the great advantage of being objective giving half a point after a flag falls only to a player who had no way of losing the game by any moves you could make on the board. It may seem harsh, but lets remember that the player has, after all, lost on time!

I want to end by giving some exercises for interpreting this rule. In all of the following positions White has played and his flag has fallen. In which cases does he lose the game and in which is it a draw? You can answer in the comments section and Ill give the final answer in a couple of days.

Position 1: White has just played Qe8+ and his flag has fallen

Position 2: White has just played Qe8+ and his flag has fallen

Position 3: White has just played Rc7 and his flag has fallen

Position 4: White has just played c7 and his flag has fallen

Dont forget to leave your opinion in the comments section! Are you confident of what the result would be in each of the four positions?

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What happened in Carlsen vs. Firouzja? - chess24

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Chess: White is six pieces and six pawns up, but can you find the mate? – Financial Times

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Magnus Carlsen won two more global crowns last weekend when the Norwegian, 29, dominated the world 30-minute rapid and five-minute blitz world championships in Moscow. He lost only one of his 38 games and was impressive in all phases. This was one of his best wins.

Since 2009 the No1 has won four classical global titles, five at blitz and three at rapid. It is reminiscent of the vintage years of Jose Capablanca, Bobby Fischer or Garry Kasparov, except that Carlsen puts his reputation on the line far more than any of his legendary predecessors.

Alireza Firouzja, 16, won the rapid silver medal. A few days earlier, the Iranian teenager opted to play under an international flag rather than obey Tehran officials who ordered him to withdraw to avoid meeting any Israeli opponents.

In England the traditional Hastings congress, staged annually since 1920, is under way with its new sponsor Caplin Systems, specialists in desktop and mobile trading technology, plus a record entry for recent years. The three-time British champion David Howell, who lives in Sussex, is the favourite.

Hastings has its final two rounds on Saturday and Sunday (2.15pm start) and is free and live to watch online.

2348

White is six pieces and six pawns ahead here, and its just a two-move mate, but it is easy to fall for a false trail.

Whites first move is not a check and at first glance seems an irrelevant piece retreat to the back row. Can you find it?

Click here for solution

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Chess: White is six pieces and six pawns up, but can you find the mate? - Financial Times

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Quebec teen beat her mom at chess at age 5 and hasn’t looked back – CBC.ca

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Maili-Jade Ouellet won an international chess championship in Mexico in November, earning her an invitation to compete for the Women's World Chess Cup.

A 17-year-old from Saint-Lambert, Que., is heading to Belarusin 2020to compete for the Women's World ChessCup,after winning an international chess competition in Mexico earlier this year.

Maili-Jade Ouelletis a CEGEP studentat Champlain College.

In November, she travelled to the Women's North American Continental Championship, an invitation-only tournament in Aguascalientes, Mexico and one of only two qualifying championships for the Women's World Cup in chess.

Ouelletwon it handily, beating the runner-up bya wide margin. She was the youngest competitor in the tournament.

"I was really surprised at first. I had set up goals for myself, but it was a bit unrealistic. I was disciplined throughout the whole tournament," she said. "I know I deserved it, but it was still really, really cool to win it."

Ouellet has been playing chess since she was five years old and competing since she was seven.

She and her family realized early on that she had an aptitude for the game.

"I beat my mom when I was only five, so that helped," she said. "And when I started winning chess tournaments, that, too."

"Chess is a game that leaves very little room for luck," said the Quebec Chess Federation in a statement, congratulating Ouellet on her recent win.

"Good mental discipline is a fundamental characteristic to succeed in chess. There's no doubt the new champion has this trait."

Ouellet was also awarded the St-Lambert prize in culture.

Ouellet is a regular competitor, both in Quebec and nationally, although since starting CEGEP, she's been focusing on her studies.

She organizes her life so that she does her school work during the week and is available to play chess on the weekends.

"It's not much of a hassle," she said. "It's more like I have my school schedule ... then I do everything around it."

She said her CEGEP schedule is actually more forgiving than her high school schedule. She's managed to do everything in part because she says she requires less sleep than others, sleeping about six hours per night.

Ouellet is looking forward to the competition next September in Minsk, Belarus, although she's not sure what will come of her chess-playing in the long term. She hopes to go into law.

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Quebec teen beat her mom at chess at age 5 and hasn't looked back - CBC.ca

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Koneru Humpy pockets first world chess crown, clinches Women’s rapid title in Russia – Times of India

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Koneru Humpy has given another reason to google her. Indias first Woman Grand Master is the new womens World Rapid Chess Champion.

Her feat came at the King Salman World Rapid Chess Championships in Moscow, Russia, on Saturday. While Magnus Carlsen clinched his third world crown in the Open group, Humpy emerged winner among the Women.

Humpy, seeded 13th, was tied with Chinas Lei Tingjie collecting nine points each in 12 rounds.

To break the tie an Armageddon game was played between Humpy and Tingjie. After losing her opening play-off game, Humpy recovered in the second and clinched the title in Armageddon decider.

This is my first World Championship title and I am very happy and excited with this victory, Humpy said in an interview with Fide.

She added, People were expecting me to win the Classical WCH for many years. Nor I have been very good at rapid. So it was an unexpected victory for me. When I started my first game, I didnt have any expectations to finish first. I thought a finish in top-three would be a great result, she stated.

In the three-day rapid event of the World Rapid and Blitz Championship organised by the World Chess Federation (FIDE), Humpy, who has 2438 Elo ranking points, gave a performance rating of 2538. Shining on the world stage is not a new occurrence for Humpy. She has four World Championship crowns across various age groups as a junior.

Talking about the tie-breaks, Humpy said, I really didnt expect to play the tiebreak games. I managed to win my rapid games in the last two rounds and Tingjie lost in her last round where she needed a draw to win the title. And I got the opportunity to play the tiebreak.

In 2011, Humpy lost a World Championship match against Hou Yifan. There too in the tiebreak, she had endured a false start. Analysing her mental state, Humpy said, Of course, I lost my first game with White as I did not play quickly and lost on time. Since I was desperate to win the second, I chose the Modern defence and gambled which yielded positive results. In the final game, I had a pleasant position in the middle and managed to beat the time too.

In the 12-round rapid event, Humpy recorded seven wins, four draws and suffered a sixth round defeat to 24th seed IM Bulmaga Irina.

On her way to glory, Humpy defeated the lower ranked Margarita Potapova, Khomeriki Nino, Kovalevskaya Ekaterina, Girya Olga and Voit Daria before posting an upset win over ninth ranked GM Dzagnidze Nana in the eighth round and surprising sixth-seeded Tan Zhongyi in the final round.

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Koneru Humpy pockets first world chess crown, clinches Women's rapid title in Russia - Times of India

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January 3rd, 2020 at 10:47 am

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From Minecraft to Auto Chess: The 29 games that define the 2010s – VentureBeat

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At GamesBeat, we like to focus on the business, innovation, and technology of games. So were bringing that approach to our games of the decade list. You wont find just a list of the games we thought were the best from a critical standpoint (sorry, as much as I love you, Obsidian Entertainment, Pillars of Eternity isnt here). What you will find are the games we believe tell the story of this decades industry, setting up where we believe gaming will go in the 2020s.

When we consider the games that define the 2010s, we must look at the 2000s, for three of the games that frame the decades innovation, be it in design, economic models, or technology: Dwarf Fortress, League of Legends, and Minecraft.

The mechanics of one of these would filter into a number of genres, and believe it or not, it still hasnt seen its first retail release. Another would redefine both strategy games and esports, building a massive company, following, and genre and paving the way for Riot Games to thrive in the 2020s. And our final pick helped usher in the user-generated content revolution of this decade, turning mod makers on PC into well-known names in a community that numbers in the millions and showing, for the first time, that the idea of a walls were falling down around the game industry.

Please enjoy this journey with us, and again, thank you for supporting the independent journalism of GamesBeat and VentureBeat. We do not have a corporate owner. Were our own thing, and that you take the time to read us and support us means more to me, Dean, Jeff, and Mike than any of you will ever realize.

Jason Wilson, GamesBeat managing editor

Above: Theres an entire dwarf civilization in those ASCII characters.

Dwarf Fortress initial release on the internet was years before the 2010s, and its full publication on Steam wont happen until the 2020s. Yet its been one of the defining games of the decade despite this, alongside other 2000s games like Minecraft and League of Legends. The idea of the living game, one that resides on the internet, where content is continually added, and fans of the game can play it for years, has been possibly the biggest story of the 2010s, from mobile to blockbuster games.

Thats not the only way that Dwarf Fortress helped define the 2010s. Losing is fun went the tagline, which is a way of saying its a game about stories. Its a game thats as or more fun to experience other people playing, whether on forums, or via social media, or streaming. The 2010s were also about games becoming a group experience, blurring the lines between player and viewer. The rise of the roguelike generally, and survival strategy specifically, are directly tied to the idea of games as a shared experience.

Perhaps more than anything, the fact that Dwarf Fortress, a legendarily weird game, could end the decade being one of the most wishlisted games on Steam shows that the idea of what a game is and especially what a hit game is has changed dramatically. At the start of the decade, youd go to a store and pay $60 for a box with a completed game inside was still a default understanding of how games worked, with digital distribution starting to open other models up. By the end of the decade, that door is wide open, and what it means to have a hit game has totally changed. Rowan Kaiser

Above: Welcome to the League of Legends jungle.

Image Credit: Riot Games

I remember the first time I saw Riot Games League of Legends in 2009. I had no idea what to make of it. It was confusing. It was different. And I knew that I was looking at something that would change the way we play strategy games.

But I had no idea it would revolutionize esports as well.

Before League of Legends, strategy games came in two stripes: real time, where youre building your bases, gathering resources, and constructing an army as your opponent does the same. You scout, you probe defenses while coming up with a plan of attack, and you may also deal with some neutrals running around the map. You might even have hero units as well Or you played a turn-based game, which comes in many stripes, may have you working on economies, social agendas, and more as you build up a grand civilization, researching tech-tree upgrades, and so much more.

Warcraft IIIs Defense of the Ancients mod took all of this and made something new, something different, in 2003. And while others beat Riot into turning this style into a full game, Riot was the first to emerge with a smash hit. And weve seen League ripple through the game industry. Valve and Blizzard followed with their own takes, a genre wed come to call MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena). A host of others followed, with many of them failing. The rush came to mobile, with varying degrees of adaptation and success. New twists emerged, such as Clash Royale (combining MOBAs and card games), and it later gave birth to a new genre thats on the rise at the end of the decade the auto-battler (think Auto Chess, Teamflight Tactics, and its ilk).

And as League of Legends gained traction, it found players and Twitch. Here, it continues to be a dominant force. Every day, tens of thousands of people watch top players defend the lanes or push for the goal. And as this viewership grew on Twitch, it changed esports. Before, competitive gaming was the realm of StarCraft and South Korea, along with Evo and a host of smaller fighting game tournaments. But as League of Legends grew, so did its competitive scene. And folks then realized that these viewers represented millions in untapped dollars.

And thus the esports revolution was born, and the likes of The International, the Overwatch League, and a host of competitions for card games, shooters, and other MOBAs. Jason Wilson

Above: Blockceptions Whiterock Castle was the No. 1 best-seller on the Minecraft Marketplace two months in a row.

Image Credit: Blockception

I dont play Minecraft. My kids do. Every day they get video game time, they spend some of it playing Minecraft on our Nintendo Switch. And what they create is amazing castles, forts, houses and farms. And as they create, they talk about what theyre doing, trying to figure out how to get the designs from their imagination on the screen.

Now, that alone makes Minecraft innovative. Weve had builders before, but none of them could match Minecraft in its limitlessness. Earlier in the decade, I remember how so many publications covered the amazing creations folks were making inside Minecraft. Someone did a computer in the game that works! And as Minecraft expanded, it knocked down the walled gardens, coming to just about every device that runs games be it a PC, a home console, or a smartphone or tablet. Im kinda surprised the screen on my fridge isnt running it yet. With more than 176 million copies sold, Minecrafts expanding to other genres and augmented reality.

But its done more than knock down walled gardens. In doing so, it heralded how corporate parent Microsoft was looking to get its games on new platforms. But it also showed a new way creators could make money selling things they make in the store. It built on how folks were selling hats and other materials for games like Team Fortress 2 on Valves Steam PC store, and now, people are selling millions of dollars worth on content there.

Minecraft shows how giving people the tools to create and smashing those walls between platforms can pay off not just for a corporate parent but for everyone. Jason Wilson

Above: Mario and Nintendo are at their best in Super Mario Galaxy 2.

Image Credit: Nintendo

In 2010, many of us were still in the middle of the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii era. It was a time of transition. The Wii was a huge success, but it was becoming apparent that its motion-control focus was not going to be the future of the industry, especially with casual gaming taking off in the mobile world.

But for console players, one game defined 2010 better than any: Super Mario Galaxy 2. That may seem like a strange claim. In many ways, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a safe sequel. It looks and plays a lot like the first Super Mario Galaxy.

Galaxy 2 is just better in every way. Nintendo gave a master class on how to create a traditional sequel. The levels were more creative and the experience was tighter. Even today, when it comes time to praise a sequel, you often hear people compare it to Super Mario Galaxy. And in the midst of the Wii era and stuff like Wii Fit, Super Mario Galaxy 2 reminded us that few are better than Nintendo when it comes to making fun video games. Jeff Grubb

Above: They should make a movie about what happens when you teach an A.I. how to fight a war.

Image Credit: Blizzard Entertainment

Before it came out, you would have thought that StarCraft II would be one of the biggest hits ever. Instead, it did fine. Blizzard Entertainments real-time strategy game sequel showed us how times were changing. The original StarCraft was a dominant force in the world of esports, but MOBAs like League of Legends had taken over. This set a trend for RTS for the rest of the decade, as the genre saw a huge decline in the 2010s. Mike Minotti

Above: The beauty of Red Dead Redemption.

Red Dead Redemption could be the most impressive game of the PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 era. Its detailed world, convincing acting, and engaging story set a precedent for triple-A games ahead of the launch of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Its still a standard that few have matched. Mike Minotti

Above: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim sure caught on.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was omnipresent throughout the entire 2010s. Bethesdas role-playing game came out early in the decade, and were still talking about it.

For one thing, its very good. Skyrim offers players a giant, detailed world thats worthy of exploration. It began to influence other open world games, even The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and the VR game Asgards Wrath.

And then there were all those ports. Skyrim was originally out for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC. Throughout the decade, it would come to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, VR, and even Amazon Alexa (well, kind of). Mike Minotti

Above: Come, sit by the fire and warm your Dark Soul(s).

Skyrim wasnt the only game we talked about during the entire decade. While its predecessor, 2009s Demons Souls, was technically the first in the series, Dark Souls established a new kind of action-RPG formula that focused on slower combat, tough boss fights, and punishing penalties for death.

And just like with Skyrim, Dark Souls would come to every platform imaginable. But while Bethesda has been slow to make a sequel for Skyrim, Dark Souls turned into a trilogy in the 2010s, and developer FromSoftware used its formula to make other hit games: Bloodbourne and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.

Dark Souls would prove influential, as even Star Wars looked to it for inspiration in 2019 with Jedi: Fallen Order. In the 2000s, action role-playing games were all about fast-paced fighting and combos. Dark Souls changed that. Mike Minotti

Above: Crusader Kings II is one of Paradoxs breakout hits.

Image Credit: Paradox Interactive

By all logic of how video games should work before 2012, Crusader Kings 2 was a disaster. Here was an incredibly niche strategy game, well outside the Civilization or RTS style that made for a hit, and in its first month? It sold a mere 20,000 copies. And yet, persistence across digital distribution, word-of-mouth, and good reviews kept Crusader Kings 2 going. This games combination of strategy and character relationships was special. And that specialness was rewarded, eventually, as CK2 became a hit and an inspiration.

If any game exemplifies the Steam era of PC gaming, its hard not to pick Crusader Kings 2. Beyond that constant availability, Paradox kept it alive by keeping it alive with expansions, add-ons, and patches. The new model for the living strategy game wasnt a giant expansion or two then a sequel, but a steady flow of new content with new ways of playing the game, and patches to support the people who werent buying. The model proved sustainable as well Paradox used variations on it to prop up both their publishing and their development sides, becoming an ideal form of the new middle class of PC gaming enabled by digital distribution. Rowan Kaiser

Above: Clementine is one of the decades best characters.

Image Credit: Telltale Games

Crusader Kings wasnt the only middle-class game to succeed in 2012, a year that also saw the release of Telltales The Walking Dead. The adventure genre, long-dormant in the mainstream, got new life with The Walking Deads moral choices, major intellectual property, and most important, the connection of those choices with an episodic release structure enabled by digital distribution. Telltale itself would become a cautionary tale more than Paradoxs success, but both companies felt a rush of success in 2012 because they used digital as more than simply a distribution method, instead seeing it as a way to creatively develop new types of gaming experiences. Rowan Kaiser

Above: Mass Effect 3 is an intersection of the decades trends.

Image Credit: BioWare

Also in 2012, we have Mass Effect 3, which is unfortunately best known for its grand ending controversy, a firestorm of fans, press, and developers converging into an absolute mess of internet culture. This masks that ME3 is a great game. But also lost in the storm and fury was that the games multiplayer, a remarkable critical success, was also a remarkable success monetarily, as EA started added FIFA Ultimate Team-style lootboxes to more and different kinds of games.

Above: GTA Online changed Rockstar game-development model.

Image Credit: Rockstar Games

Grand Theft Auto V was a massive game in 2013. And everyone knew it would be. What we didnt know is that in 2019, it would still be a massive game. GTA V is an enormous success due in large part to the GTA: Online mode. This takes the gameplay into a shared multiplayer world where you can compete in quests, do online heists, and purchase digital items with a currency that you can get using real money.

I think the best way to put GTA Vs success into context is like this: During the decade leading up to 2013, Rockstar released one major new game per year. That included Manhunt, The Warriors, Bully, Manhunt 2, Grand Theft Auto IV, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, Red Dead Redemption, L.A. Noire, and Max Payne 3. But since releasing GTA V in 2013, Rockstar has only released one game, 2018s Red Dead Redemption II.

Instead of putting out new games, Rockstar began working on new content for GTA: Online. That content is cheaper to produce because the studio is mostly just adding new stuff to a gameplay and design infrastructure that already exists. And unlike a new game that might make a lot of money on its first day of release, GTA: Online makes a steady stream of revenue. This makes tricky things like revenues and staffing needs much more predictable and easier to manage.

Maintaining GTA: Online with regular updates is a much less risky proposition than making a new game. And that is GTA: Onlines legacy especially in the 2010s. Every game developer and publisher wants their own GTA: Online. They want a game that can last for years with regular updates that brings in a steady flow of money. And based on its popularity and the popularity of other live-service games, its what consumers want as well. Jeff Grubb

Above: Dota 2 reaps the benefits of the live-service model.

Image Credit: Valve

In the same way that Rockstar made fewer games after Grand Theft Auto V, Half-Life developer Valve has made very few new games since launching Dota 2 in 2013 (after a lengthy beta). And Valves reasons are similar to Rockstars. But were including this MOBA because of how it shaped so much of the business of games.

Dota 2 popularized community items that people could design and sell on Steams marketplace. This is also the game that introduced the idea of battle passes or premium progressions passes. Players could buy an item called the Compendium that you would earn levels for by playing Dota 2 matches. And that process would unlock items over time. You could, of course, buy levels if you have more cash than time. Now, battle passes are a common feature in a wide variety of games.

The Compendium revenue, however, didnt just go into Valves pocket. Instead, the company contributed a portion to the prize pool for The International. This immediately turned Dota 2 into one of the premiere esports games in the world. Other studios have since mimicked this practice as well. Jeff Grubb

Above: Elizabeths A.I. received a boost from techniques folks use on the pitch and the stage.

Image Credit: Irrational Games

In trying to tell the story of the decade, its almost serendipitous that Grand Theft Auto V, Dota 2, and BioShock Infinite all came out the same year. They so encapsulate what happened over the last 10 years. Sure, every studio wants to have their own live-service game that generates profits for years. But what is so wrong with the old way of making a game as a product? Well, BioShock Infinite is what is wrong.

BioShock Infinite was the highly anticipated sequel to 2007s breakout hit BioShock. Developer Irrational Games started work in February 2008, and it took five long years to get the game out to fans. But more than the time, those were also expensive years. The game was so costly that even after selling 11 million copies, publisher 2K Games obviously didnt consider the game a success.

Suddenly, we were living in a world where a game could sell better than almost any other game and still end up as a failure. Following BioShock Infinite, almost no publisher wanted to fund a massive single-player narrative-based game especially in a world where mobile games that cost a fraction to make were generating $1 billion in revenues per year. Jeff Grubb

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From Minecraft to Auto Chess: The 29 games that define the 2010s - VentureBeat

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January 3rd, 2020 at 10:47 am

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Chess Team Makes Right Moves at Pan-Am, Advances to Final Four – University of Texas at Dallas

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Dec. 30, 2019

For the 17th time in 20 years, The University of Texas at Dallaschess team will travel to New York to participate in the 2020 Final Four tournament. The finals berth comes after the team placed fourth in the Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship this week.

The Presidents Cup, which is considered the Final Four of College Chess, will be held in April at the historic Marshall Chess Club in New York City.

The competition among the top collegiate chess programs has gotten fierce over the last few years, said Jim Stallings, UTDallaschess program director. For our chess team to make it to the Final Four tournament again is quite an achievement. Im very proud of our team members.

UT Dallas was among 63 teams participating in the Pan-Am tournament, which was held in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Dec. 27-30.

All credit goes to the guys for making the most of their chances when they came their way. While luck always plays a part in this tournament, our players were focused and ready.

UT Dallas chess team coach Julio Catalino Sadorra

The Pan-American tournament featured six rounds of play over four days. Some universities were represented by only one team, while others, such as UT Dallas, brought multiple teams to the contest. En route to the Comets fourth-place finish, UT Dallas squads defeated teams from Webster University, Saint Louis University, Texas Tech University and the University of Pennsylvania.

The UT Dallas team consisting of Gil Popilski, David Berczes, Craig Hilby and Angel Arribas Lopez earned the Final Four berth for the University with a 5-1 record.

UT Dallas chess team coach Julio Catalino Sadorra said he was particularly pleased that one of the UT Dallas teams defeated the reigning Final Four champion, UT Rio Grande Valley.

All credit goes to the guys for making the most of their chances when they came their way, Sadorra said. While luck always plays a part in this tournament, our players were focused and ready.

The Comets will face Texas Tech, Webster and Saint Louis University at the Presidents Cup tournament.

While the opponents are ranked higher than UT Dallas, Sadorra said he believes the team can again demonstrate a gritty, fighting spirit in representing the University at the Final Four.

On paper, our chances are lower. However, if we do what we did at this tournament, focusing on what we can control, we definitely have a chance to win, he said.

Media Contact: Phil Roth, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2193,[emailprotected] or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [emailprotected]

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Chess Team Makes Right Moves at Pan-Am, Advances to Final Four - University of Texas at Dallas

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