The beautiful coastal city of Valencia, Spain was the venue for a very insightful and entertaining chess conference on Chess Strategy, Artificial Intelligence and AlphaZero.
Held on the weekend of May 17 to 19, and organized by the Federació d' Escacs de la Comunitat Valenciana and hosted at the Universitat de Valencia, the conference was a well-balanced mix of theoretical discussions, round-table debates on the implications of AI in our everyday lives and future, and hands-on workshops on how AlphaZero is challenging the way we play chess.
Those attending the conference included:
One of the most entertaining sections of the conference was the workshop where attendents were shown chess positions to analyze and asked to suggest what AlphaZero had played in each position. Even in a room filled with chess enthusiasts, ranging from strong club players all the to Grandmasters, several puzzles took many guesses before the solution was found.
Here's one example;
AlphaZero versus Stockfish, White to move. What did AlphaZero play here?
At the conference people suggested moves like Rc1 to control the semi-open file, Qc2 with the same idea and to support a future e4, but AlphaZero played 12. a4! GM Sadler explained that one of the characteristics of AlphaZero's play is the advance of the rook pawns, in order to either sacrifice them for lines of attack or to hem in the opponent's own pieces with a timely a6 or h6 move.
Here the game continued: 12. a4 c6 13. a5 Nxe5 14. dxe5 Nd7 (diagram) What did AlphaZero play here?
15. a6! Bc8
16. f4 Nb8 (to win the pawn on a6)
17. Kh1 Nxa6
AlphaZero has lost a pawn, but now the a1 rook is fully active and threats and combinations on a6 will be a theme throughout the game.
If you'd like to view more AlphaZero positions, and enjoy videos from the conference, visit our Learning Center and enjoy our interactive puzzles: click here -> Play Like AlphaZero!
You can also purchase the very entertining book about AlphaZero: GAME CHANGER ALPHAZERO'S GROUNDBREAKING CHESS STRATEGIES AND THE PROMISE OF AI by Matthew Sadler and Natasha Regan.