Man vs. Machine: Lenderman vs. Komodo This Week

Man vs. Machine: Lenderman vs. Komodo This Week

| 35 | Chess Event Coverage

Resuming our Man vs. Machine series, this week is hosting a match between American grandmaster Aleksandr Lenderman and Komodo. The chess engine will be playing with knight odds but with offsetting factors.

How to watch?
The match runs May 18-19 and May 21-22, starting at 11 a.m. Pacific time / 20:00 CEST. You can follow the games in Live Chess and also on our Events channel, as Lenderman will provide commentary while playing.

The match is held a month after Komodo's big loss against GM David Smerdon, who defended humanity wonderfully with a 5-1 score—if you accept humanity playing with knight odds, that is.

Smerdon played solid games, managed to trade pieces at the right moments, and comfortably converted endgames with extra material.

The conclusion: A piece is too much to make such man vs. machine matches a fair fight. This time, with some adjustments, the result might be different.

This week's match will see 16 games of rapid chess with 15 minutes and a 10-second increment on the clock. In all of the games, Komodo as White will play with one knight removed. However, there will be the following adjustments:

  • Komodo chessFour of the games, inspired by GM Vladimir Kramnik's "no castle" chess, will be knight odds (alternating) with Black forfeiting the right to castle as if White has sacrificed a knight just to make Black move his king.
  • Four of the games will be Fischer Random (Chess960) with a white knight removed, but the kings and rooks will start on their normal squares, so they will be legal games under normal chess rules with normal castling.
  • The other eight games will be normal knight odds with one black pawn removed. Two games will be with the b7 removed, two with the c7 removed, two with the d7 removed, and two with the e7 removed—each one with a white knight removed.

Lenderman, born 1989, is rated 2634 FIDE, 2642 FIDE Rapid, 2651 FIDE Blitz, and 2816 in blitz. Komodo is rated 3423 CCRL (Computer Chess Rating Lists) Rapid on four cores but will be playing on a 32-core Threadripper (a type of high-performance desktop microprocessors), which should boost its rapid rating to around 3600.

"I expect this match to be competitive, not like the Smerdon match," said GM Larry Kaufman, one of the developers behind Komodo. "We are probably still the underdog."

Lenderman played and lost two previous rapid matches with Komodo but at smaller handicaps. In the last match, about two years ago, he lost 2-1 with a two-pawn handicap (f2 and g2, c7 and d7, d7 and e7) and also lost one game with a queen for a bishop-and-knight handicap. Because a knight is worth about four pawns in the opening, his prospects are much better in this match.

The new match is scheduled for May 18 through May 22 with May 20 as a rest day. The starting time is 2 p.m. Eastern time (11 a.m. Pacific time, 20:00 CEST) each day, with games starting roughly every hour, depending on length. Lenderman will provide commentary on our Events channel while playing.

How do you think Lenderman will score?

GM Larry Kaufman contributed to this article.

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!

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