Interview with 15th chess WCH finalist


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Thibault de Vassal    (2018-06-30)
Interview with 15th chess WCH finalist

For once, as Eros & I couldn't find much more to say after all his consecutive wins, I asked Ramil Germanes these few questions around his match & correspondence chess (with what may look like a quite surprising conclusion).


- Hello Ramil, many thanks for answering those few questions! This is a first time with the WCH finalist, as the winner (Eros again) agreeded this could be an interesting experiment for a change, so we'll probably have a quite different point of view this time! You just finished your games to score 6-6 (12 draws), Eros retaining the title again. I guess this was the first time you played such a correspondence chess match, what are your impressions on this knockout format?

Yes this is the first time I've played a world championship match although I played before in earlier editions of this world championship but not reaching the challenger level. My impression? Its great playing for the world championship but I know its nearly impossible to beat the world champion.

- Let's rewind a few months backward, would you make other choices, in openings or anything?

I don't know. Tbh, I'm not very good on chess theory and not very updated as well. So I'm just playing basic moves hoping for opportunities to come up.

- So, is Eros beatable in this final match according to you? (please give us some hope) ^^

With how quickly you can search information and the strength of chess engines nowadays, its almost impossible to beat him unless you have access to alpha zero (haha). Though maybe Herbert Kruse can pull it off.

- What can you tell us about yourself and your relation to chess & correspondence chess?

I'm just an ordinary guy from the Philipines who happens to love playing chess. But my love of computers is what brought me to correspondence chess and to ficgs.

- Do you play other games, e.g. Go, Shogi, cards games?

No I don't know how to play those games.

- Could you tell us how these 12 games went from your own point of view?

For me, the games went through their normal course. Both of us didn't made any major mistakes so all games were drawn. That's just how it went. Though there were new moves on some the games it doesn't really changes result of the older games played before.

- Would you share a few tips to play good correspondence chess in 2018, or at least to beat the best chess engines? :)

Sorry but i dont know. I will be the new world champion by now if i know, hehehe.

- You told me that your computer configuration was basically a quad-core i5 3570 / 4gb on Fritz GUI (about 10,500 kn/s) / Windows 10, and we know that many of us (Eros included) still use such configs or even dual-core, would an octa-core have brought a significant advantage to you to win this match according to you?

Oh I don't know they still have those configurations. But I've already encountered opponents in Infinity Chess with 18-22 cores configs. Anyways, an octa-core or faster cpu would definitely be going to speed up my analysis and will let me analyze more lines and variations which may improves my overall play.

Honestly, I don't have that much time these days for correspondence chess. In my match against Eros, I had only about 1 hour of analysis time before work and about another 1 hour after work. Since I already have a family and 2 kids, they have to be my priority first. And I think somebody also can relate to this. So a faster cpu would be very helpful in the match and maybe will give a better chance than a slower cpu.

- As far as I know, you love to build computers, did you use or think about using several ones at the same time for analysis?

No. I only used one computer in my match against Eros. I have 2 other computers but both are slower.

- How much time you've been playing correspondence chess & how do you feel the way the game changed over the years?

I've been playing correspondence chess since 2010 and I have observed that its easier to win games in the past when chess engines were still weaker. Because you notice some players depend only on engine moves and engines still commit mistakes and you can exploit those mistakes if you "investigate" further.

Unlike now, engines are very strong that even players who rely solely on engines moves will be very hard to beat. It lessens the gap of players that know how to "use" the engines and the ones who do not.

- Finally, what makes you love correspondence chess in 2018?

I will always love chess and correspondence chess but what makes it exciting now is the rise of the new kind of engines.

Engines like Leela chess zero that has a different approach in playing chess. Maybe more of these kind of chess engines will be seen in the future. Because of its use of monte carlo analysis and neural networks, we are starting to see moves that we have never seen before. Very aggressive attacks and moves defying opening principles can now be seen. Correspondence chess is getting exciting again!

Ilmars Cirulis    (2018-07-02 16:05:07)
Interview with 15th chess WCH finalist

Interesting interview! Thank you.