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With interest soaring in machine learning and its role in all kinds of games, chess will be in the spotlight at the prestigious MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference this year, organizers announced today. The chess program is scheduled for Saturday, March 2.
Chess.com’s chief chess officer IM Daniel Rensch will host a chess and machine learning panel at the conference, focusing on the stunning achievements in computer chess and its embrace of artificial intelligence. The panel places chess at the famous Sloan conference, which has deeply influenced the landscape of sports and social science analytics in recent years.
The session is called Chess AI Transformation: How Self Learning AI Taught Chess Computers (and Humans) a Lesson.
“The game of chess continues to act as a barometer for the leading edge of artificial intelligence, and […] artificial intelligence continues to fundamentally transform the game at the highest levels,” according to the conference promotional materials.
Rensch will host a slate of events showcasing computer chess with several expert guests:
- Daryl Morey: general manager of the NBA’s Houston Rockets and co-chair of the conference
- GM Robert Hess: noted chess commentator and grandmaster
- Folkert Huizinga: core developer of the Leela Chess Zero (Lc0) project
- GM Larry Kaufman: founder of the Komodo chess engine
The chess session will begin with a simultaneous exhibition where GM Robert Hess will play 10 conference speakers and VIPs at the same time. Rensch will serve as the commentator for the simul.
After the simul, the chess room will host a panel discussion on the way artificial intelligence and neural networks have changed chess. Joining Rensch and Hess in the discussion will be Folkert Huzinga, a core developer of the machine-learning chess project Lc0.
Lc0 will then show off its skills in a two-game exhibition blitz match vs Komodo in the Chess.com Computer Chess Championship, which will be simulcast to the conference with commentary by Rensch, Hess, Huzinga, and the Komodo founder GM Larry Kaufman.
The chess panel will conclude with a man-vs-machine chess match between Lc0 and a human chess grandmaster [Hess?]. The game will be conducted at material odds, with the computer starting down material, to level the chessboard and give humanity a chance at victory.
See the full chess room schedule at the official conference site.
“New approaches in AI are upending sports in dramatic and unexpected ways such as how it is transforming a sport, chess, that was already thought to be mostly ‘solved’ by computers,” said Daryl Morey, co-chair of the conference. “Reinforcement learning AI has shown that even chess computers that evaluate billions of positions a second have blind spots to be exploited in unexpected ways without human intervention. I expect this reinforcement learning AI approach to revolutionize other sports as well but as always with AI it appears chess will be the pioneer.”
The emergence of Lc0 in the past year and success of the DeepMind AlphaZero chess project have energized the use of machine learning to play chess at the highest levels.
“The fact that engines like Leela Chess Zero require zero prior knowledge about the game (apart from the rules) is what I find most exciting,” said Lc0 core developer Folkert Huizinga. “It’s beautiful to watch and learn from Lc0’s ability to improve its skill far beyond human level just by playing against itself, and to see the the strong positional play that emerges. It’s also fun to ponder about the future of this kind of technology.”
The MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference is dedicated to fostering growth and innovation via the increasing use of analytics in sports. The conference was founded in 2006 and is co-chaired by Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets, and Jessica Gelman, CEO of Kraft Analytics Group. MIT Sloan students plan and operate the annual conference.
The 2019 speakers include many celebrities and thinkers in sports and social sciences, including the author Malcolm Gladwell, the Los Angeles Lakers owner Jeanie Buss, the Oakland Athletics’ analyst Mark Bashuk, the journalist Stephen Dubner and the author Michael Lewis.
For a full list of 2019 speakers, visit the official site.
Morey previously joined Rensch and Hess as a commentator during the 2018 world chess championship between Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana.
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