February 05, 2004

2003 in numbers (part II)

Today I have prepared a statistical review of 2003 regarding games played in Advanced Chess League. Having added some experience from the previous article 2003 in numbers (part I) which presented HCL games, I believe that I have a lot of noticeable things to say.

I use two formats to express final results:
+x=y-z means x wins for White, y draws, z wins for Black
The score in percentage for White can be calculated with the formula:
Score% = [x + (y/2)] / (x+y+z) where x,y,z are defined as above.

Advanced Chess League

Games, moves, results

In 2003 the PlayChess site hosted 2272 completed games by 471 players. Compared to HCL, since players have access to both categories, less than 16% have tried to team up with a chess engine (I have not taken into account those playing only ACL games). The number of games is less than 7% of the games played in HCL. PlayChess members need some encouragement to participate in ACL tournaments. In the near future I am going to dedicate a lot of articles upon this topic.

White scored 52%. In detail the results were +910=542-820. When we examine each tournament class separately we find that the results do not vary more than 2 cents from the average.

The following pie shows distribution of games over tournament class. You can see that Thematic tournaments are very popular. In ACL the number of games in 2003 for this class was 604 compared to 1312 in HCL. Many players use their computer in order to research a certain opening and its possibilities, or they experiment with their computer upon a known (though not so common most of the times) opening theme.

Games per tournament Class

Caissa has 209 games, Blitzmich has 168, and Goofy is third with 156 games.

There is a game that ended in move 3, only because one of the opponents abandoned the effort (a game from the Swiss tournament). There are also 6 games that ended in move 5, only one of them with checkmate and another one with a "mate in 4" position. The longest game was ACL-M009-30 between Lindam and unconnected, lasted 102 moves, the final move giving the point with checkmate to Lindam.

71 games ended with early draws (less than 20 moves).

First move choice

1285 games started with 1.e4, 670 with 1.d4, 87 with 1.c4, 93 with 1.Nf3 and 137 with one of the remaining moves. This final category includes lots of the thematic games with unusual first move. The pie representing these results is almost identical to the one you can find in the HCL article 2003 in numbers (part I).

A little more about first move choice: 1.e4 or 1.d4?

In the HCL article I used as reference games from OTB databases since 1990 with both players over 2400 ELO. This time I limited the range to games from the same period with both players over 2500 ELO. To my surprise 1.d4 is more popular than 1.e4. Bar labeled “TEST” in the following graph shows exactly this:

first move: e4 or d4

Each bar compares 1.e4 (orange) to 1.d4 (blue) only, (100% represents total of 1.e4 plus 1.d4) for each tournament class. The “T” bar shows that Thematic tournaments announced by PlayChess prefer King Pawn openings rather that Queen Pawn openings. Don’t blame Thomas for this. He has also created tournaments for Grob’s Attack (1.g4), Sokolsky opening (1.b4) and From’s Gambit (1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6) especially for the ACL addicts.

You can see that more experienced players (bars "E" and "M") trust 1.d4 more than players from A and B class. The "S" Swiss tournament bar shows that 73% opened with 1.e4 (compared to the total of 1.e4 and 1.d4). This result is higher than the average from A, B, E and M classes (63%). In order to provide a more accurate result, I should have taken into account the tournament class for all players with White in every single finished game. Sorry, I cannot do this. I simply conclude that the Swiss tournament affects our style from the very first move.


It has been very difficult to get any results about opening preferences. The database is small (2272 games) and for every ECO code with a number of games exceeding 40, most of them come from Thematic tournaments. I can only mention two openings:
a) The Advance variation of Caro - Kann (B12) 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 is one of the favorite openings with 36 games.
b) The Sveshnikov variation of the Sicilian defense (B33) 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 has the same number of games, most of which appear in E and M classes. In OTB tournaments White scores 52% with this opening. In ACL the results are surprisingly high for Black. In E class tournaments we have +4=6-8 and in M class +3=2-7.

The following graph presents most popular openings (Thematic games are included). If there are any players who wish to know more about the Queen Gambit games I can only recommend to play games with these openings in the ACL to enrich our statistical knowledge.

openings in ACL

I compared the results for the above openings to the results of OTB games with the same openings. In all cases in OTB tournaments White scores approximately 55%. In ACL we have the same results for the French defense and Ruy Lopez. The Caro – Kann games favor White in the Swiss, E and M tournaments with a score up to 60%, while only 47% in the A and B tournaments. The Sicilian games favor Black in all cases. White scores no more than 43% in all classes.

Posted by Michalis Kaloumenos at 03:54 PM | Comments (0)

January 30, 2004

Kramnik vs. German National Team

Vladimir Kramnik challenged four players from the German National Chess Team to a simultaneous match. You can follow the games at


Result: 2.5 : 1.5 (for Kramnik)

Posted by Thomas Stahl at 03:36 PM | Comments (3)

January 08, 2004

2003 in numbers (part I)

Happy New Year everyone! I have collected some statistical data from HCL and ACL databases. Here are the details regarding HCL:

Human Chess League

Games, moves, results

In 2003 the playchess site hosted 33950 completed games by 2964 players.
White scored 52% (15464 White wins, 4470 draws, 14018 Black wins).

cccmember has 1185 games in C, B, A and E and Thematic categories.
footyhead comes second with 665.

7072 games were played in A class tournaments, 9110 in B, 8868 in C, 4751 in E, 2837 in M and 1312 in thematic tournaments. Here is a graphical representation of this result:

games per tournament class

HCL-A616-36 between Flanker and ETC_Chess lasted 127 moves and ended in a draw.

63 games lasted only 5 moves, though only 10 out of those ended with checkmate. There is a private game with a checkmate in only 3 moves; more about it and a lot of entertaining ?miniatures? in a future article.

586 games ended with early draws (less than 20 moves).


20388 games started with 1.e4, 8477 with 1.d4, 1495 with 1.c4 and
1443 started with 1.Nf3.

Irregular openings (ECO A00; that is also excluding 1.b3 and 1.f4 from the above list) are a total of 1387 games.

first move statistics in playchess and professional chess
The left pie represents opening first move in PlayChess games. The right pie represents opening first move in games across the world since 1990, with both players over 2400 ELO. As you can see, PlayChess players prefer King Pawn?s openings more than anything else.

5074 games follow the Sicilian defense (B20-B99). Most popular variation is the B30 Nimzowitsch-Rossolimo attack 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 with 357 games and the B22 Alapin variation 1.e4 c5 2.c3 with 335.

The French defense (C00-C19) has 2605 games, 604 of which follow the C02 advance variation 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5

Games with 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 (C50-C59) have a total of 1557 games.

The following diagrams show the most popular openings:

openings in Human Chess League

Philidor?s defense (C41) is very very popular in PlayChess. It is a very good opening, to begin opening studies. I have already played 4 games (3 as Black) with this line in my earlier B and C class days in this site. With a closer look I discovered that more experienced players do not prefer this opening.

percentage of C41 per class

The graph above represents games with Philidor?s defense as a percentage of total games played in each category.

The results of a C41 game also vary in tournaments of different categories.

C41 results percentage per class

The first five bars of the graph above show the result of the games in each class, the next bar shows the result across all HCL games. The far right bar represents the score of C41 games, with at least one player over 2400 ELO, from a commercial database. Members of PlayChess tend to draw in less games with this opening than professional chess players, who avoid to play 2?d6 after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 because of the low success rate.

A similar research is possible for every opening. However I decided to present here, as a sample, the Advance variation of French defense (C02). I have tried the line twice and then abandoned it in favor of Tarrasch variation 3.Nd2, because I realized that it would not be easy to score a point against a more experienced opponent. The following graphs follow the same convention as above.

percentage of C02 per class

C02 results percentage per class

As you can see this line appears more frequently in M class tournaments. Surprisingly the potential of a draw result is higher than in professional chess. In lower categories, White cannot take full advantage of the 3.e5 move. Black dominates the game.

Special thanks to Kounoupidi who contributed to the concept and realization of this article.

Posted by Michalis Kaloumenos at 07:09 PM | Comments (9)

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