In the TCEC Cup 7 , Stockfish and Leela Zero played the below position;

Is this a win for White or is Black able to defend this position? Black to Play

[Event "TCEC Cup 7"]
[White "Stockfish 11?"]
[Black "Leela Zero"]
[Result "*"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/5pk1/6p1/R5Np/7P/6PK/5r2/8 b - - 0 1"]
  • Maybe the tag should have been computer endgame – Stefano Nov 16 '20 at 5:19
  • I couldn't find this game in the TCEC Cup 7 archives of Leela vs Stockfish. Do you have a link to the game? – Allure Nov 16 '20 at 6:28

The position appears to be a win for White. To win the position White needs to bring their king. So the first step of a the winning plan is to put the white rook to f4. The position after a rook trade is easily winning for White, so Black's response would have to be to defend f7 from the 7th rank. For instance: 1.Ra4 Re2 2.Rf4 Re7

Now White can bring their king: 3.Kg2 Ra7 4.Kf3 Ra3+ 5.Kf2 (not 5.Ke4 and 5...f6! draws) Ra2+ 6.Ke3 Ra3+ 7.Kd4 Ra4+ (7...f6 now allows 8.Ne4) 8.Kc5 Ra7 9.Kb6 Re7 10.Kc6 Ra7.

At this point White once again switches around the rook, blocking the black rook from the 7th rank: 11.Rb4 Ra2 12.Rb7 Rf2

With the way cleared White now tries to put their king to e8, finally breaking down the defense of f7. 13.Kd7 Kf8 14.Rb8+ Kg7 15. Rb4 Kf8 16. Rf4 Rd2+ 17. Kc6 Rc2+ 18. Kd6 Rd2+ 19. Ke5 Rd7 20. Nxf7 Rxf7 21. Ke6!

This is just an example line, Black can defend quite a bit longer however White will always break through eventually.

I'm quite new here, would be happy if someone can help out with putting up such a board for replaying. :)

  • I also tend to agree that position should be win for white; just would trade rooks on f3; but I did not have time to do any anlyses. – Drako Nov 17 '20 at 7:17
  • Well, as mentioned Black will not trade rooks voluntarily. But White can use the threat of a rook trade to make progress. My above line is computer checked, it does lead to White winning. – koedem Nov 17 '20 at 7:18
  • then they loose f7 - because first 2 white moves Ra7->Rf3 is double-attack to Rook and f7 pawn. if f7 pawn is taken win should be pretty easy with open black king. – Drako Nov 17 '20 at 7:21
  • Did you read my post? :D As soon as White leaves the 7th rank e.g. by playing Ra3 with the idea of Rf3 (or as mentioned in the post, Ra4-f4 is more precise) Black leaves the f file with Re2 to meet Rf3 with Re7. But then as I wrote that allows White to advance with the king. – koedem Nov 17 '20 at 7:23
  • probably I'm mistaken - as I wrote - did not have time to analyse – Drako Nov 17 '20 at 8:04

Without running any analysis. I can't see any moves that are deemed "Strong" for black.

I ran a quick computer analysis through three engines and in each instance white is winning in the starting position;

Results - Starting Position
~Stockfish 12 : +2.32
~Leela Zero : +2.31
~Komodo Dragon : +2.44

The below is the best result for black is the below; which both Stockfish and Komodo Dragon as the best outcome for black in 5 lines.

[White "Stockfish"]
[Black "Leela Zero"]
[Result "*"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/5pk1/6p1/R5Np/7P/6P1/5r1K/8 w - - 0 1"]
[PlyCount "28"]

1. Kh3 Kf8 2. Ra7 Kg8 3. Rc7 Kf8 4. Rc8+ Kg7 5. Rc7 Kf8 6. Rb7 Kg7 7. Rd7 Kf8 8. Rd8+ Kg7 9. Rc8 Re2 10. Rc7 Rf2 11. Rb7 Kf8 12. Rd7 Kg7 13. Ne6+ Kf6 14. Nd8 Kg7 *

Results Finsihing Position
~Stockfish 12 : +2.63
~Leela Zero : +2.64
~Komodo Dragon : +2.66

Note: I just interpreted whites first move to make things easier my side for analysis etc. Does not change the described position.

  • and what is that cleanest result? As a human I don't see any improvement to position in those 14 moves; but the way I would play for win in starting position for white - Ra3->f3 - exchange rooks or take on f7 then you can go on with new analyses – Drako Nov 16 '20 at 12:46
  • Sorry cleanest result wasn't the best term to use. The best outcome from black on a +/- evaluation. Editing now – David Bateman Nov 16 '20 at 13:00
  • 1
    but the question actually was if its win or black can defend - your evaluation means nothing - you can try to put 8 blocked pawns and few bishops of your color (position is impossible) but that would kind of show the issue of just posting evaluation - if you want to help - check position after Rook exchange - probably will get better eval - this is one of those positions where comp is blind - as human against engine you can defend it forever but GM will kill you quickly – Drako Nov 16 '20 at 13:18
  • @Drako are you oke mate? Think about the question was asking about engine analysis of a position. Humans are irrelevant in the question. The analysis was Engine vs Engine. Including the two refrenced by the person submitting the question. Objectively through use of engines. Black cannot defend the game in this position – David Bateman Nov 16 '20 at 14:14
  • 1
    I'm ok :). Please re-read question, quote: "Is this a win for White or is Black able to defend this position? Black to Play" - so author clearly wants to know real assessment, evaluation and not only engine analysis - it was just clearly stated that position comes from engine tournament. – Drako Nov 16 '20 at 14:37

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