Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Lies, Damned Lies and Computer Evaluations

Exciting news of our Manchester member, who today has finished 2nd= in the Amateurs B tournament at the Gibraltar Chess Festival, bringing home by my calculations some £512.50 in prize money. Greater than my entire life-time chess winnings, I suspect. With 4.5/5 this was a splendid effort, but - and I don't want to appear churlish here - it was not as smooth a road to the winners' rostrum as it might appear. Let's walk ourselves through Joshua's tournament.

Round 1 against an American rated 1690 (about 136 in ECF terms). Joshua plays a very exciting opening. His opponent seems to know it at least as well as he does, and ends up with a winning position. Which he nurtures up to move 62, when the mighty Stockfish proclaims an advantage of +16.17. Does Joshua get downhearted? No, he wins in just 6 more moves! Must have played his Get Out of Jail Free card just in time.

Round 2, and its the splendidly named Spaniard, Gregorio Bizcocho Mellado (1771/146) who is in opposition. The opening does not go well for Joshua and by move 29 the engine puts him at -5.15. No problem. Our hero turns the tables and not too much later the evaluation is +64.03 in his favour! At which point Joshua plays a move that gives away 55 points - the equivalent of 6 queens!! - of his advantage Luckily he is still +9, and duly wins.

Round 3 and its English opposition in the shape of Keith Parker (1810/ECF 145) from Muswell Hill. By move 22, Stockfish has it in for Joshua yet again - he is -3.57, but this is only the equivalent of being a piece down, so its no big deal after the disasters of the first two rounds. Resignation occurs on move 46, and our hero has 3/3.

Then something goes wrong in round 4.  Despite never being worse than -2.3, he is unable to make another great comeback against Dieter Bauer of Germany (1714/139) and so only makes a draw Such an insignificant disadvantage was not enough to get the adrenaline going it seems.

This leaves Joshua half a point off the pace going into today's last round, but unlike at Ilkley (see post dated 7.1.19) the three people ahead of him do not do the decent thing and lose. Two of them draw with each other, but the third, Eddy Bosschem (great name!) of Belgium sees off Spanish opposition to grab sole first with 5/5. Joshua, meanwhile, is playing a rather good game, and his position is never worse than -0.8, which is nothing to a proponent of the Manchester School of Chess. Sure enough, despite a few missed opportunities that could have shortened proceedings, Joshua (the number 2 seed on ELO) eventually scores a well played win over number 1 seed Victor Manual Cernuda Orejas from Spain (1893/162) to finish in a four way tie for second.

And there we have it - worse in all 5 games, of which two were seriously worse and two were dead lost! But that's just computer evaluations. They mean nothing in the real world when two players are competing mano a mano - or in Joshua's case mano a Manchester! Then its survival that counts, and our man is pretty ruthless when it comes down to a slugging match. So well done Joshua. Strutting his stuff and flying the KCC flag successfully on the global stage. While steadfastly refusing to play too many good moves in the process!

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