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Hossa - The CCT5 tournament

The following text has originally been posted at CCC on January 21, 2003 at 04:43:00

Here are my notes about Hossa playing the CCT5. I have not yet analyzed Hossa's game deeply but I want to give you a fast overview of my impressions. Please give me some feedback if I made mistakes in my quick analysis.

I haven't worked a lot on the "old" Hossa since CCT4 because again I started to rewrite my engine (It sometimes runs as "Jockel" at ICC). Unfortunately this is a very time consuming and also sometimes boring job. This new version isn't by far as strong as the stable Hossa. Therefore I first didn't want to join CCT5. Also hardware was an aspect against joining because it seemed as if I had to play with my outdated Athlon 900. Having a look at the participants list I saw that most engines will run on much faster machines. Hossa already is a slow searcher and gets outsearched most of the time. I feared that Hossa would not be competitive with such a big hardware disadvantage. On the other hand I played all CCT's so far and didn't want to miss the fun I always had in those tournament. Then in the last month I began to enjoy to modify the old Hossa again. I think that the changes were significant compared to the CCT4 version so I decided to join CCT5 - encouraged by people like Alex Kure and Bob Hyatt - and not to miss the fun even if I had to play on a slow hardware. I was very happy that some days before CCT5 the hardware problem was solved. Alex Kure organized a P4 2.8 GHz with 2 GB RAM for me which I could use for CCT5! This made me much more optimistic. On thursday we installed RedHat 8.0 without problems on the P4. Hossa was ready to go.

Then finally the tournament started.

The Games

  1. Monsoon - Hossa: 0-1
  2. Hossa - Crafty: 0-1
  3. Amateur - Hossa: draw
  4. Hossa - Averno: 1-0
  5. Chezzz - Hossa: 0-1
  6. Hossa - Bringer: draw
  7. Terra - Hossa: 0-1
  8. Hossa - Ferret: 0-1
  9. Diep - Hossa: draw

PGN Database

You can find a PGN database of all games from Hossa on my web server.

Round 1: Monsoon - Hossa (0-1)

After the tournament I read that people think that rank 6 for Monsoon was a surprise. I wasn't surprised about that at all because I had played many games with Monsoon before and knew how strong it was. Hossa had a very bad score against Scott's creature. So I wasn't too optimistic for round #1. Well, if I had lost I could declare it as having played a swiss gambit. ;-) One of Hossa's biggest problem is his opening book. I tried to compile a very small opening book and hoped that Hossa would survive this phase. It wasn't successful all the time. Right in the first round Hossa allowed his opponent to destroy blacks king pawn shield:

FEN: r1bq1rk1/pppp1p2/1bn2p1p/1B2P3/3p4/2P2N2/PP3PPP/RN1Q1RK1 w - - 0 10
after 9... gxf6

Later Hossa gave away a pawn (c6) and got a rather strong passer on the d file:

FEN: r4r2/p1p2pk1/1bN5/3pP1p1/6b1/2N5/PP3PPP/2R2RK1 b - - 0 18
after 18... d4

I was much more confident now. Monsoon was very happy with its position though.

In move 20 Monsoon offered the exchange:

FEN: r4r2/p1p2pk1/1bN5/4P1N1/3p4/8/PP2bPPP/2R2RK1 b - - 0 20
after 20... d3

I am a bit proud that Hossa refused to take the rook but instead played 20... d3 and kept the pressure. Later Hossa opened the f file and all his pieces very involved in active play. Monsoon even gave his e pawn so that black got a pawn on the e file which could support the strong pawn d3.

This is the position one move before Monsoon resigned:

FEN: 8/N1p4k/8/P3Rr2/1P2pr2/3p3P/3Rb1PK/8 w - - 1 33
after 32... R8f5

Here Monsoon played 33.Kg3 and resigned after 33... Rxe5 because of 34.Kxf4 e3 35.Ra2 d2. But what if Monsoon had played 33.Re6 ? This was the move which Hossa expected during the game with a draw score. Can anybody find an improvement for black in after this move??

Round 2: Hossa - Crafty (0-1)

This game was a disaster. I could not watch most parts of the game because some minutes after its beginning my wife had a circulatory collapse. Fortunately she was ok very soon. Hossa showed solidarity with Regina and collapsed, too.

I saw Crafty computing more than 2600000 nps in that game! Crafty was able to build a king attack and with that computing power it was over very soon.

FEN: r4r1k/1p4p1/2pp2np/2b1p2q/p3Q1bP/P1PP1NP1/BP1N1PK1/R5R1 b - - 0 20
before 20... Rxf3

I resigned in move 26.

Round 3: Amateur - Hossa (1/2-1/2)

Games between Amateur and Hossa are most of the time interesting. IMHO they are about equally strong. Amateur ran on the same CPU as Hossa did, so I expected an open fight. Unfortunately the opening was bad again. Hossa was down a pawn at move 15:

FEN: b2q1rk1/2p1bppp/3p1n2/1N6/4P3/1PN5/1P3PPP/2BQR1K1 b - - 0 15
after 15.Ndxb5

Kingway said: "few humans would want that pawn"

Soon lots of pieces were exchanged. Both sides had a rook, a queen, and a bishop of opposite color. My hope was that Amateur would allow to trade even more pieces. Kingway comment was: " trading rooks and queens is trivial draw, trading queens is easy draw, trading rooks is still work...". I was right: in move 31 Hossa could exchange the rooks. The position was already very drawish. Amateur was still very happy with its position though. In move 33. Amateur took Hossa's queen and the position was a dead draw:

FEN: 6k1/3q1ppp/2p5/2B2b2/1P6/5P2/1P4PP/3Q2K1 w - - 1 33
before 33.Qxd7

Although it was a easy draw the game continued to move 144. Hossa even almost blundered and I started to get nervous but in the end the game was drawn. It also was interesting that Amateur showed a score of >+6 in the last moves. Will could not explain this. I hope he can find and fix this bug.

Round 4: Hossa - Averno (1-0)

At the beginning of this game I had some massive lag. Hossa got disconnected but luckily I could establish the internet connection soon again. This game was the cleanest victory from Hossa. Averno didn't have much chance. Already in move 17 white had an impressive center:

FEN: 3rnrk1/1pqnppbp/p5p1/P1pPP3/5Pb1/2NBBN2/1P2Q1PP/R4RK1 b - - 1 17

It was only a question of time when something tactically was possible:

FEN: 3rnr1k/1pqnp2p/p4p1b/P1pPP1p1/2B2PbN/2NQB3/1P4PP/R4RK1 w - - 0 21

In this position Hossa found the nice 21.Ng6+! Of course other moves were winning, too (e.g. 21.d6). I am interested if your favorite engine would play Ng6+ here, too. Black couldn't stop whites king attack and resigned at move 28.

Round 5: Chezzz - Hossa (0-1)

I was already very exhausted - this is something btw. which my wife could not understand. She asked me why I was exhausted because I had nothing else to do than to start the games. Everything else was done by the engine. Technically speaking she is right, of course ;-). I could hardly follow the game and expected to fall asleep during the game.

FEN: r2qk2r/pp2bppp/2npbn2/2p1p3/2B1P3/2NPNP2/PPP3PP/R1BQK2R b KQkq - 2 9
before 9... Bxc4

After 9... Bxc4 black had already a suspicious position because his d pawn became weak. Usually Hossa took about 1-2 minutes per move in the tournament. Now something strange happened in this position:

FEN: 3b4/p2k1qp1/3Pn3/p2Np2p/2P1P3/2P1B1Q1/6PP/6K1 b - - 0 32

White had just taken d6 and Hossa started to think and just didn't want to move. Suddenly I was awake. Already while Hossa was still thinking I could find with the help of the log file and having a look at the source what was going wrong. In certain circumstances Hossa extends the search time by small pieces. The pieces should get smaller each time the time gets extended. Here it was different! The pieces got larger, much larger. As Hossa usually plays blitz most of the time this bug was not visible because with shorter time control the time doesn't be extended as much there. Luckily Hossa wasn't in danger to extend its search time over the remaining time. It was also a lot of luck that this bug occurred in the last round of the day so I had time to implement a workaround until day 2.

When Hossa moved 32... Kxd6 he had spent more than 17 minutes for this move!! He had about 5 minutes left on the clock. Chezzz had more than 20 minutes IIRC. And the position wasn't very well, neither. Then Hossa had a lot of ponder hits which helped him to recover a bit on the clock. But also the position on the board changed. Chezzz traded the queens and suddenly the two a-file passers became dangerous. This game needs some deeper analysis which I haven't done so far. In the following position I think white is already lost:

FEN: 8/2k5/8/p2P4/2P1p1p1/pKP3P1/Nn6/8 w - - 0 59

White played until he got checkmated in move 93. David was very unhappy with that game which I can understand very well. It's the opposite here of course. I already thought that Hossa would lose this one for sure. It was a nice turnaround for me.

Round 6: Hossa - Bringer (1/2-1/2)

This was the first round of the second day. I hoped that the workaround for the bug from game 5 was working (spoiler: it did!). So far Hossa had performed much better than I had expected it. But I knew that I would get only very strong opponents on the 2nd day (well, the opponents from day 1 were strong, too).

Hossa played a strange opening again in this game with 1.f4 d5 2.d4 e6 3.Bd2 and tried to play actively with 11. f5 and later with 25.g4.

FEN: 2r2rk1/pp1b2pp/1q2p1n1/3p4/3P2P1/P1N1Q1BP/1PP5/1R2R2K w - - 3 30

Here Hossa played 30. b4 which I could not understand. Bringer improved the pressure on the c file:

FEN: 5rk1/pp1b2pp/2q3n1/3pp3/1PrP2P1/P1N1Q1BP/2P5/1R1R2K1 w - - 2 33

White already loses material. Hossa played 33.b5 which gives the best counter play IMHO. Hossa won back the pawn later and it even looked as he had good chances to win the game.

FEN: 6k1/3K2p1/3P3p/8/8/5R2/8/6r1 b - - 0 74

As Peter already stated tablebases helped to fix the draw.

Round 7: Terra - Hossa (0-1)

In the opening white moved his queen in an inactive position:

FEN: 1r1qk2r/pp3pbp/2ppbnp1/n3p3/Q1PP4/1PN1P1P1/P3NPBP/R1B1K2R b KQk - 0 11

Hossa has some expensive knowledge about queen mobility which should pay in this game. Nevertheless white had the better position because he managed to build some pressure on Hossa's center pawns:

FEN: 2r1nrk1/pp4qp/2nppbp1/2p5/Q1P5/1PN1P1PB/PB1R1P1P/2R3K1 b - - 13 21

Here a move like 21... Qf7 seems obvious to protect e6. Hossa instead played for positional reasons 21... Nc7 which I like very much. This gives away the pawn d6 but removes a lot of pressure from his position. Look at the position after move 27:

FEN: 3q2k1/pp5p/n1n1pbp1/2p5/Q1P5/PPN1P1P1/1B3P1P/5BK1 w - - 0 28

Whites queen is still under control which Hossa knew. White has the d file. Later Hossa forced Terra to give a knight in order to save his queen:

FEN: 1n1b1k2/p7/1pn1B1p1/1Qp4p/N1P5/PP2P1P1/1B1q1P1P/6K1 w - - 3 36

The threat was a6 therefore Terra played 36. Nxb6. But even after that white was not able to free his queen for some time. This time Hossa used to grab some pawns. Finally when white's queen escaped from her prison it was already too late.

Round 8: Hossa - Ferret (0-1)

This is the 2nd loss from Hossa in CCT5. Hossa was as chanceless as in the game with Crafty although Bruce meant "Hossa is still kicking" when I thought it was already over. Hossa lost time for his development by playing Ne5 and Nb5 too early. After move 17 there was a triple pawn on the board:

FEN: 3rk2r/p3ppbp/q3b1p1/1pp1P3/8/1P2P1P1/PBQ1P1BP/R4RK1 b k - 0 17

Ferret soon got two connected advanced passed pawns on the b and c file and had no problems to get the full point and become leader of the table.

Round 9: Diep - Hossa (1/2-1/2)

The first move after having left the opening book was 8... g6 and allowed Diep a nice tactical maneuver:

FEN: rnbqkb1r/p3pp1p/2p3p1/1p2N3/P1pPP3/2P5/5PPP/R1BQKB1R w KQkq - 0 9

After 9. axb5 cxb5 Diep played 10. Nxf7! Kxf7 11. Qf3+ Kg7 12. e5 Nc6 13. Qxc6. Later Diep was a pawn up by winning c4.

FEN: r6r/4pkbp/6p1/p7/2RP1B2/2P5/5PPP/4K2R b K - 0 21

Hossa managed to push the a-file passed pawn to a2. After a while the following position was on the board:

FEN: 4k3/6b1/4p3/2B5/2PP1R2/2K5/8/7r b - - 2 50

I am not qualified to comment this endgame. After the game Vincent said that he thinks that white should win. In the game Diep could not find a winning plan and it was a draw after move 74:

FEN: 8/R7/4pbk1/2K5/2PP4/8/3r1B2/8 w - - 51 75


It was a lot of fun to play this very well organized tournament. The time control is too fast for my taste but on the other hand it's more family-friendly to play on only one weekend. For the next CCT5 I would vote for not having a winner decision by blitz games. Crafty, YACE and Ruffian all deserve to be named as winners of this tournament.

Some conclusions:

I am looking forward for CCT6.

Best wishes, Steffen.

© Steffen A. Jakob