Alphazero’s shortest loss to Stockfish | Shocking French Defence Classical secrets revealed

September 15, 2019 posted by

Hi all. I have an absolutely amazing chess game to show you. It is Stockfish eight playing with the white pieces against AlphaZero.
It is from TCEC (Top Chess Engine Championship) conditions of TCEC start position and it’s actually shocking. AlphaZero has a total disaster in this game. It’s the shortest ever loss on
record against Stockfish. So what on earth happened here? Chess is 99% tactics
a chess quote by Richard Teichmann. So the neural network approach is not totally
about calculation. It is about learning self learning and often that’s patterns like
“Thorn” pawns Does it help AlphaZero here? We have e4 from Stockfish e6. This is the book moves given so the
French defense territory the classical variation and encouraging White to
close the center. so Nf6 the classical variation we have Bishop
g5 which is a key move Bishop e7 and now e5 Nfd7 and now h4 – The Alekhine Chatard Gambit – a very dangerous gambit now in this game the book move given is
Bishop takes g5 to accept the ferocity the dynamic aggression of white’s pieces
on that h-file. Black has other choices like c5 in chessbase LiveBook has been
played before or h6 for example h6 we could take on e7 but this isn’t so scary
for black if black’s not greedy this looks like a reasonable position.
White does have a small edge but blacks got chances to undermine the center as
an example but here the book move given Bishop takes g5 so the full dynamic
pressure of white is here. After Knight h3 this is the known
continuation. Now usually here … Queen g4 was played here prompting
g6 and now usually there’s Knight f4 in this position which has various ideas
but here we have Knight g5 which does seem a really interesting alternative
as proven by Stockfish. If there was ever a theoretical novelty in the French
defense this is I believe one of the most important and touched on it before
in another video actually. Knight g5 seems really dangerous looking at f7 and h7. So here AlphaZero plays h6. Just to show you some of the dangers already
tactically. Say black plays Nf8 the Queen on g4 is useful for bang
Knight takes d5 and then Queen takes c8 check. So there’s already little
tactics like that to be aware. The pawns hit though. That’s the key
thing so black can’t really do that defending the pawn. So black plays h6 another pawn move on
c5 yeah if this pin doesn’t really help black because it backfires on the pinner
after Nf6 check and then this is check. So we have h6. White just ignores
that knight – just leaves the knight on g5 just castles Queenside because of the
pin against h8 so we have knight c6 here now again on Knight f8 there’s the
tactic Knight takes d5 using that pin against the e6 pawn against the c8
Bishop. So that’s not possible. Knight b6 looks plausible but Bishop d3 has the
menacing idea of Knight takes f7 a well known kind of tactic. For example knight
c6 bang knight takes f7 and if Queen takes then there is Bishop takes g6 pinning
the Queen to the king and if King takes this is also bad because of check here.
And then the rook slides in with rook h3 and this is devastation. If
black has to give up that rook this position – even though the bishop is lost
Black is really pinned up here as ending up losing anyway in this scenario. It’s
horrible for black with that pin on the c8 Bishop against the rook and the
protector of the rook has been taken away with Na4. So that’s all pretty
devastating stuff so the decision here was knight c6. So this avoid the possibility
now if c5 undermining the White center. So the white center is pretty secure here
now. And in fact also Nb5 is now dangerous. We have two knights on the fifth rank. Common advice is to try and kick away a knight when it’s on your
fifth rank. Because you know they’re quite tactically dangerous so
here the knights are really both kept tactically
dangerous on both sides of the board There is an aesthetic tactically to this
game. Now here Knight b6 is played defending c7 like
that. So again let’s run with that. Now an interesting move Rd3 which
this third rank is free to use by both rooks and a great target here is f7 of
course so this is a great way of mobilizing to f7 this d1 rook. We have h5
if we look at this position with say a6 then Knight takes f7 is really
dangerous believe it or not. For example axb5 there’s taking the rook. This is
harmless because of King b1 and White can weather the storm here by protecting.
Make sure c2 is protected after the checks and then play Rb3 and
then there’s always Ra3 knowing that c2 is protected so this position is
okay. c2 is protected there. It’s the black attack that is repulsed there. The
rebellion is crushed so yeah White’s winning that so a6 Nxf7
is really dangerous so axb5 is not working. Queen takes there’s Rf3
and black falls to pieces here basically say this Knight takes c7 dragging
the Queen away for Queen takes g6 and although black is material up, black is falling to bits. Qxh8 check for example there. So this is really devastating
stuff. So we have h5 being played and now this is just ignored. Rf3 is played – a
brilliant move tactically just ignoring that because if the queen is
now taken then the forcing move rook takes h8 check
and now rook takes f7 regains the queen with big interest. This is a big
advantage for White. So casually ignoring the Queen being attacked and
putting more pressure on f7. The soft spot. So a6 is played and now here
another fabulous tactic – Queen g3 is played so
basically there is now the idea of rook takes f7 so offering the knight on b5.
Now this is immune as well because if axb5 Rxf7 – this is devastation
after c3 for example Queen a4 Queen f4 this is just too much for black
to bear. For example the Queen goes there then this Knight is pinned making Qe7
checkmate a threat and that’s not good news. But let’s have a look at this
again So if say rook a3 here you might
think. Rook takes c7 the casual rook takes c7 and taking the Queen this is a
big advantage for white this position yeah it’s it’s all pretty crushing this
axb5 doesn’t work after rook takes f7. Black is falling
to bits so we have actually Knight d8 and you can see that the congestion the
cramp these spectator pieces are not helping
the soft spot. The critical soft spot of black’s position is not helped by these
pieces on the Queen side here. We have the knight now retreating to c3. Now
Knight d7 is played. On Bishop d7 you might think to try and do something with
the Queen side pieces. Bishop d3 targeting at the pawn chain. So for
example h4 queen g4 and then bang Nxf7 is devastation. This is too
much “pin and win” is on a famous tactical
quotation and here it’s pretty evident this pin is crushing. White’s gonna be
winning material back. Black has to get away from there and white has a big
advantage there so we have Nd7 Bishop d3 more pressure on that pawn chain around
the King Great scrutiny. Nf8 is played
Here if c5 Knight takes f7 rook takes f7 is devastation after Bishop takes g6.
And if King takes here then Queen takes and then the rook swings in for
that rook f3 for a big advantage for White. So we have Nf8. Rook h4 and the
rooks are kind of doubled. We say sometimes to have the pawns ahead of the
pieces but here the pieces are ahead of the f2 pawn. And it doesn’t really matter
because the idea of doubling rooks works tactically. If it works it’s okay
sometimes as they say. You don’t have to be too theoretical about how one attacks
soft spots. Now here Black played rook g8 and in this position as
an absolutely stunning tactical move and in fact btw I had a nice discussion
on the Leela forums about this move and saying could could the classic AB
engines find the best move in this position. Actually they found the testing
move instead of this at some point but that there was either a testing move
which actually leaves the position exactly as it is and you can retry to
find this more positive move. If I give you five seconds to pause the video what would you play here? It’s totally breaking the black position in all variations this
next move. It’s absolutely magical tactically so five seconds to pause the
video. White to play. Bishop c4 !!. Yeah product of
exhaustive search. Classic alpha beta engines finding this wonderful move
The move in the forums BTW was the neutral move Nh3 which basically says
that rook takes Rxh5 is a threat because it’s pinning that pawn now for Rxh5
and you might have your Stockfish give Nh3 and the rook unpins and
then you have this position again and the the rook goes there again so you end up having to play a constructive move and you might find in your analysis by the
way it Stockfish does this all the time these testing moves which apparently
they don’t really do anything anything negative to your position. But when
you’re analyzing games like this you really want to find the more
constructive moves a lot at the time. So the constructive move here is this
Bishop c4. Now whatever way or whatever black does black is in big
trouble here. We can tell intuitively that there’s spectator pieces here on
the Queen side so why is this devastating? Well Queen d7 was played in
the game. On c6 White can just play either Knight actually to e4 for example
so threatening that huge Knight f6 check so for example here and then this
position is really devastating after the check
winning the rook on g8 so taking there. And so in fact yeah either Knight could
have popped into e4 there for this Knight f6 check. So c6 doesn’t really
help because of this. Either Knight to e4 dxc4 actually gives the feature of
pawn mobility for white which can be immediately used with d5 and the big
threat of d6 as well is is something to be considering here. So for
example Nd7 rook takes c4 as well with now Rxc7 and d6 on the cards is
absolutely devastation for example like this.
They’re absolutely devastating lines here. White crashing through basically so
yeah these lines crashing through let’s have a look. And on Bishop d7 there by the
way there’s d6 bang which actually is winning the Queen. The Queen will have to
give herself up for something that’s actually winning the Queen so this is a
totally devastating position after d5 It’s fascinating stuff. So this
this position here Rxc4 is absolutely critical for black so that
makes that work. So let’s have a look at this Bishop c4 again so we’ve looked at
c6 dxe4 dxc4 say Nd7 We have looked at in the variation Knights d7 here – if so on Bishop c4 Knight d7 we’re saying this
position Bang – Bishop takes d5 Knight takes d5. Knight takes c7 check that’s
falling apart this is devastating. e6 opening up this diagonal and now
yeah winning the Queen playing the check this is just absolutely miserable black
couldn’t even take there because of Queen d6 checkmate so yeah all of this
devastation happens basically yeah whatever reply there on Bishop c4
so yeah magical move Bishop c4 magical tactical move. So Queen d7 was the response from AlphaZero but now Nce4 so leaving two pieces hanging but wanting to go
to f6 to fork the Queen and King this is taken Knight takes. Now there’s
no Queen takes because again Nf6 check if Queen takes d4 Knight f6 check
unveils the attack of the rook against the Queen. We could take this rook first
though with check and then take the queen so Nh7 was played to try and
parry Nf6 but now “pin on win” rook takes h5 using the pin there
and the game actually ended here yeah crushing absolutely crushing tactically
so let’s see this game end position. If Queen takes d4 Queen g4 is a massively
powerful move in this position. Massively powerful and you might think … hold on
okay it sets up a tactic against the Queen. Why is this so powerful on
Queen takes c4 guess what the idea is? Okay it’s not to play Knight f6 check
here because black scoops up a lot of pieces and actually better but no just a
quiet killer move rook takes h7 leaving Nf6 on the table now for Queen takes
c4 and blacks totally busted in this position for example Bishop d7 Knight f6
check and we take the rook and then take the Queen. So what does black
actually do? Queen takes a2 check and we play Queen b4 check here – look
the knight and Queen cooperating well for a checkmate. Queen d5 we have Nf6
check winning the Queen. Queen b4 check that’s right yeah we’ve seen.We play Qb4 check which is even better first. But Nxd5
is fine. Here Qf1+ this doesn’t help black – this position
because of check and now Queen g5 this is absolutely crushing. Let’s see so
for example check and then Rd3 blacks in a sort of mating net as well
as losing material for example like this This would be checkmating so all of these
beautiful relations also exist in the final position. Let’s just go back here
so rook takes h5 that was on Queen takes d4
so on gxh5 we just take on g8 then Knight f6 so here Qe8 checkmate Nf6 absolutely devastating. So on Knight takes exf6+
then there’s Qf8 check here “Thorn” pawn
it’s helping if here that’s that and on King c6 here then there’s Queen c5
checkmate so yeah just to take it to the game end
position But to quote “Good Will Hunting” – “it’s
not your fault it’s not your fault” it’s not alpha zeros fault. It is TCEC.
Some of these start positions in TCEC. I think the stronger the the classical Alpha-Beta (AB) engines especially like Stockfish is going to end up in basically a loss
for the weaker engines. Or even if they’re just as strong if it’s cramping
like this with spectator pieces as a feature of accepting a gambit maybe
there’s just simply no defense. But Ng5 is like a major opening novelty really. I
believe now it should be the way forward Knight g5 rather than Nf4 in
this gambit line. So a really truly fascinating game and the AlphaZero team
did say chess is a bit more tactical than Go so the neural network approach
is perhaps more effective in the realms of the game Go because of the extreme
complexity that even building an evaluation function is just a mammoth
task so but in chess yeah it seems we’re not quite at the end of the era for the
classical alpha beta engines and one spin on that is just the extra
complexity. You could say the extra you in a way you could say the extra
complexity in tactics make it go beyond current engines and you have to
use a network approach. That sounds a bit fuzzy and as if yeah there’s
more scope to hang yourself in Go. And you need the neural networks but yeah this
is a an iconic game example of the
importance of chess tactics even in closed positions especially in closed
positions maybe when there are spectator pieces and tactics can smash through for
the side with greater piece of mobility. I hope you enjoyed this one. A game for the
Stockfish fans! Okay comments questions appreciated. If you enjoyed this game
video please click on the top left box which should appear shortly to become
a member at You can play against other youtubers there’s also the improve menu … learn from the Masters YouTube order button.
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new teespring store in the description for your “thorn pawn” or other Chess
t-shirts. Thanks very much! Challenge me for a game at 🙂


68 Replies to “Alphazero’s shortest loss to Stockfish | Shocking French Defence Classical secrets revealed”

  1. Simo Hayha says:

    French DeShit, twice that opening but still kudos to the Fish for managing to exploit it so well.

  2. kingscrusher says:

    Replayable game with indented variations:

  3. Sam Bowie says:

    Bishop kaboom c4!! If someone would play that against me I would be thankful for my losing part in an immortal game! Seriously.. Bishop c4.. LMAO! Insane!!

  4. Luke Chavhunduka says:

    A human would never accept the Chartard gambit

  5. Luke Chavhunduka says:

    We know why Alpha discarded the French in 1 hour I think

  6. K Bear says:

    So I guess an obvious question is did Alphazero get white in this position and how did that game go?

  7. Bobby says:

    But – the neural network will learn from this game!

  8. TeslaTheJolteon says:

    That is why AlphaZero refuted this opening! AlphaZero wouldn't play the French Defense because it does not see it as a good opening.

  9. Mwen Di Ou says:

    Oh my god !!!! Oh!! What happened? ??? That is crazy!!

  10. VertSangBleu says:

    The french defense was my first black choice for a long time:/ I never like to see it crushed

  11. harryalfie7 says:

    Do you think Ng5 is almost just refuting this whole line? Nowhere in the video do you really offer any alternative for black and certainly after 13 moves white seems to be winning by force.

  12. Rita Wanjiku says:

    If chess is 99% tactics, then why didn't Frank Marshall become a World Champion?, as i know he is the greatest tactical genius of all time.

  13. Just Chatting says:

    Honest question, why would they use an opening book for the first moves? Is it to get different dynamics?. Would of thought it would be better with no opening book🤔.

  14. Matthew Harrison says:

    Pity Alekhine-Chatard is not normally reached due to Winawer.

  15. GnuReligion says:

    @7:16, if Black Q takes the rook/NxQ,KxN, Black will have 3 pieces for the queen.
    Unclear to me how White demonstrates a winning attack after this.

  16. Matt Mackay says:

    It's hard to believe this is alphazero.

  17. Julio andres gomez says:

    Maybe king f8 to cover g7 instead of g6 creating holes in the dark squares near black king, but yes, the whole line looks fishy.

  18. Killian Defaoite says:

    Bc4 is a triple exclam move.

  19. A8nton says:

    Can you please cover the reverse game? I'd like to see how SF tried to defend this.

  20. seksdeth says:

    I definitely think that neural net chess systems will exceed traditional engines at some point, but this may take a few more years yet. Ultimately though, I foresee hybrid systems using both strategies. If both strategies give the same next move, then just play it. If they disagree, then how do you program choosing between the options. But how often would they disagree? Perhaps as infrequently as one move in 20. Interesting times for chess playing specifically and for problem solving more generally.

  21. Jeffrey Lebowski says:

    very calm sea today at the dominican republic!

  22. David Mathers says:

    Dumb beginner question: If after 19…c6 moving either knight to e4 works, why doesn't it work for white on move 19? Relatedly, after the second knight goes to e4, what's wrong with Nh7 for black rather than Kd7?

  23. Phen-the Moogle says:


  24. Phen-the Moogle says:

    Probably instead of Bc4, Nce4 works too, if you are going to sac to get to the f6 square this does the same thing, doesn't it? Although maybe better to try to get rid of the light square bishop since knights are more powerful there. I would've played a knight sac to get the job done, since both are winning me thinks, but I like how creative the bishop move is now lol

  25. Brian Teskey says:

    Since when did alpha lose to sf? I thought A0 lost 0 games?! When was this played?! A0 and leela are trained in the game of chess. As soon as forced openings are employed it is not chess anymore it’s a variant of chess that they are not familiar with

  26. Paul Bloemen says:

    This just looks like checking the bad openings. 6. …, Bxg5?. The ? Is already mentioned in Euwe 1965, and it was probably mentioned far earlier. Unless in the meantime some rehabilitation happened, which I don't believe, the only merit to use these openings in computer chess is to see whether the old masters and theoretics were right, and whether there is an even more convincing refutation. AlphaGo, Black, losing this game is not the point, after Bxg5? the position is already lost for sure. The point is, Stockfish, White, winning it, letting it show that it can win a won position, in a convincing way. If AlphaGo is less tactical oriented, then Alphago having White and Stockfish having Black would be more interesting, where AlphaGo must show it can push through. But, here in the game shown, it is not AlphaGo that lost, it isn't surprising at all. In the meantime it is quite enjoyable to see how relentless Bxg5? is refuted.

  27. smashu2 says:

    That e5 pawn is not a fawn pawn but its the same concept…not as strong because its on the 5 th rank but still strong since it's in the middle of the board..

  28. smashu2 says:

    If you check tcec archive you can find a very similar game with Ng5 won by SF7 I believe vs Komodo in tcec final the game is identical until it's completely lost.

  29. smashu2 says:

    Ng5 not a novelty I know that move from years ago check TCEC archive

  30. TheAfroNoah says:

    brilliant game

  31. Roman Kušnir says:

    Actually was thinking before you offered to pause the video about bishop e4. But after c6 couldnt find the right logic. Bishop c4! Right! Ok.

  32. Χρήστος Φρυσάλης says:

    I would like to see the McCatheon with 4…Bb4 rather than 4…Be7

  33. Michael Williams says:

    The trend that I am seeing is that Stockfish only wins when Alpha has garbage openings like the French and Chigorin forced upon it.

  34. Andrew Smith says:

    So, the classical variation of the French is losing for black. Guess what I'm never playing again!

  35. janet pollock says:

     knight D6? 😉

  36. Alcathous says:

    More proof Alphazero is actually weaker than a proper Stockfish.

  37. Hung Tran says:

    Could you please be clear on which moves were book moves and which were engine moves? Add it to the description perhaps. It's very confusing to me, not knowing when AlphaZero starts playing.

  38. Peter Nachtwey says:

    I had to watch this again to see where A0 went wrong. I think it is early on at bxg5 but if A0 was forced to play that book move, I wouldn’t consider this to be fair. Bxg5 might be a losing move. If Stock fish was playing black, would it bxg5?

  39. Shane Levene says:

    Just when I was starting to feel sorry for poor o'l Stockfish… As an underdog it's so much more attractive.

  40. Devis Choat says:

    Awesome game

  41. HerzWatIThink says:

    This appears to have been a new flawless game from Stockfish. Always come back to that question regarding the 3400 machines, would you plan on playing the same sort of game if you were playing Mikhail Tal or Anatoly Karpov?

  42. Alexandru Popescu says:

    It seems both Stockfish and Alphazero agree that the Alekhine-Chatard Attack is sound.

  43. Joker Cards 11 says:

    I would love to see more games w/ Stockfish as white!

  44. LutherBlissett94 says:

    I recommend playback speed at 1.25

  45. Elessar Telcontar says:

    2:30 turn on cc lol

  46. teodorico buscagan says:

    In the earlier days the French Defense was not even popular. Lots of brilliancies won by White. It's a counter attacking opening actually which Alpha zero failed to execute in this game.

  47. 123 456 says:

    did all of alpha zero's losses come when it was forced to play certain moves?

  48. Raster says:

    This is a horrible presentation given how good it could have been. I have watched hundreds/thousands (whatever) of chess analysis videos and this one is the worst out of anything/everything.

    It's like Kingscrusher is so excited about what he seeing that he completely forgets about the viewer. Are you making this video for yourself to watch or is it for other people? (That's sarcasm.)

    When you start, explain what is going on. For example, where did you get this game? Was Stockfish using it's opening book?

    You talk so fast, machine gun firing fragments of words, it's ridiculous.

    You're not differentiating between the moves of the engines and your own analysis, everything is blurred together.

    This is the only AlphaZero analysis video that I had to stop and shut off because it is just so irritating.

    Start over. Do it again a second time. Good luck.

  49. howwitty says:

    After … axb5 Rxf7
    Black should gladly accept a rook and knight for a queen. No need to go into hysterics. Neutralize white's attack.

  50. ygg drasil says:

    I sometimes find myself getting into these closed complex positions in over the board play (online and real) and the problem is always the clock. There's just not enough time to calculate everything, even though you intuitively can see from the position that you should have an advantage.

  51. ygg drasil says:

    The other hilarious thing about that Bc4 move is that Stockfish then sets up the exact thing that you should try to normally avoid which is a fork by a pawn on two minor pieces. I mean that's exactly what I spend time trying to avoid, and here Stockfish actually deliberately sets up the two minor pieces so that the pawn is forking them. Hilarious!

  52. tuoljg says:

    7:35 "Ra3 you might think" I dont think anyone thought that 😀

  53. Aleksandr Didenko says:

    7:31 Why do you think Alphazero should place the queen on A4? And I never heard Alphazero lost a single game to Stockfish.

  54. OG EZ PB says:

    i didn't like the french when i first saw it and wondered how anyone could feel comfortable with it. Then I looked into it and Stockfish finds e6 the best reply to e4. well, that's the french. so i tried it and found i liked it better than e5. maybe one day i'll learn how to play the sicilian. still, the french is solid!

  55. Vladimir Raskovic says:

    Moral of this game: if you are black here, reject the gambit.


    why not Nce4 immediately? this was my guess… right idea but wrong move order?? why move the bishop first?

  57. Stephen Hughes says:

    Fire on the board! Amazing.

  58. frozencloud17 says:

    I just noticed he's not really at the beach.

  59. DigitalShaolin says:

    Wow.. amazing game! So entertaining!

  60. Joshua Xiong says:

    Told ya.

  61. Alexandru Popescu says:

    Did Stockfish fair any better with the black pieces in this opening?

  62. G Spawn says:

    For anyone just stumbling on this like I am, clarification again. AlphaZero was forced to play certain human openings to see how it would do after that. You might as well just let Stockfish have several free moves before AlphaZero is allowed to make its first move. AZ more or less gave up human openings in its first few hours (actually since it didn't start with a list of human games it invented them, saw they were dumb, and quit using them). AZ still beat Stockfish by a wide margin over several games even with this limitation.

  63. Muhidden Misbak says:

    this is an insane move. if mikhail tal sees this he will be overjoyed

  64. Jess Lambujon says:

    The French Defense was among the ten openings analyzed by Luis Ramirez de Lucena in 1497. It was played in the last game of the Morphy-Anderssen match in Paris in 1858 and also in the 1960 Fischer-Tal Olympiad game in Leipzig which ended in a draw. This Stockfish-AlphaZero game is of course out-of -this-world !!!

  65. Les Lassiter says:

    "There is no way to get an advantage against the French that I know of."- IM John Watson. Think again. In fact, there is a wave of improvements and new ways to play against the French coming soon. French players will be devastated.

  66. P V says:

    At 11:51, wouldn't nh7 by black neutralize white's attack? Not only would it prevent the king/rook fork but it would also protect the g5 f6 squares. Yes the rook could continue the attack with h5 capturing the pawn and threatening the knight, but you could push g5 to keep the queen from penetrating? That knight on e4 is still a deadly threat no question, so this may not work once the rook takes the knight on h7.

  67. Shantorey Wilkins says:


  68. Man O'Culture says:

    Bishop c4!! devastation level 100!

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