The future is here – AlphaZero learns chess
Approaching chess might still seem unusual. After all, although DeepMind had already shown near revolutionary breakthroughs thanks to Go, that had been a game that had yet to be ‘solved’. Chess already had its Deep Blue 20 years ago, and today even a good smartphone can beat the world number one. What is there to prove exactly?
Would the best mobile phone chess app be a favorite in a match against Carlsen?
AlphaZero had done more than just master the game, it had attained new heights in ways considered inconceivable. The test is in the pudding of course, so before going into some of the fascinating nitty-gritty details, let’s cut to the chase. It played a match against the latest and greatest version of Stockfish, and won by an incredible score of 64 : 36, and not only that, AlphaZero had zero losses (28 wins and 72 draws)!
Stockfish needs no introduction to ChessBase readers, but it's worth noting that the program was on a computer that was running nearly 900 times faster! Indeed, AlphaZero was calculating roughly 80 thousand positions per second, while Stockfish, running on a PC with 64 threads (likely a 32-core machine) was running at 70 million positions per second. In spite of this insane deficit, AlphaZero crushed Stockfish 64-36 with no losses at a time control of one minute per move.
In the diagram above, we can see that in the early games, AlphaZero was quite enthusiastic about playing the French Defense, but after two hours (this so humiliating) began to play it less and less.