Lichess4545 Ledger 014

Lichess4545 Ledger

Issue #014 - January 30, 2017

State of the League

Round 4 of 4545 saw a notable uptick in the number of alternate searches with a total of 14 alternates used. I know the alternates are eager to get more games so the lichess4545 mods are happy to have them get the opportunity to participate.  As always, let a moderator know early on when there are issues in scheduling.

Round 3 of Lonewolf #6 was notable for a few upsets at the top. LM @Atrophied went down to @DonJohn, while NM @Unicornz was held to a draw by @Lelouch_Vi_Brittania. The final player with a "title", LM @Flaneur, also suffered a loss. However, this was to #1 seed @beauvain.

From the #blitz-batle mods: The second round is planned for February 5th, time still to be determined. The start time will most likely between 15:00 and 20:00 GMT (which is this upcoming Sunday).

Notable lichess4545 community member videos/contributions:

@Atrophied's Lonewolf and 45+45 games

@thepawnslayer shares some great endgame puzzles in this educational video.

Stats from Round 4 of 45+45: Thanks to @somethingpretentious for his work to automate the process of coming up with these stats. It is much appreciated!

  • Biggest upset: 168 point difference petruchio 1480 beats Immortality 1648 Gamelink
  • Lowest ACPL game: 5 ACPL linail against Aliquantus Gamelink
  • Lowest combined ACPL game: 12 Aliquantus vs linail Gamelink
  • Highest ACPL game: 181 ACPL by Delpire in loss to x_0 Gamelink
  • Highest combined ACPL game: 194 combined ACPL x_0 vs Delpire Gamelink
  • Longest game: Reached move 107 CM VNeustroev vs yeyq Gamelink
  • Shortest game: Ends on move 17 ChukoDiman vs Glad_He_Ate_Her Gamelink
  • Quickest mate: Mate on move 12 by Hattilla vs Mooserohde Gamelink Special mention to FM lovlas for mate in 16 moves Gamelink
  • Fastest draw: Draw on move 23 Ashelia vs sahkal Gamelink
  • Fastest resign: Resign on move 7 by Delpire against x_0 Gamelink

Stats from Round 3 of Lonewolf:

  • Biggest upset: 283 point difference pburns1587 1659 beats SoChessGoes 1937 Gamelink
  • Lowest ACPL game: 8 ACPL by both in FelixNL vs hetraie Gamelink
  • Lowest combined ACPL game: 16 combined ACPL FelixNL vs hetraie Gamelink
  • Highest ACPL game: 110 ACPL hitecherik in loss to luizerasmo Gamelink
  • Highest combined ACPL game: 168 combined ACPL marshmallow55 vs CriticalThinker Gamelink
  • Longest game: Reached move 74 Gary_Blackwood vs blaser Gamelink
  • Shortest game:Ends on move 17 ChukoDiman vs hitecherik Gamelink
  • Quickest mate: Mate on move 17 by madi1693 against kris9191 Gamelink
  • Fastest draw: Draw on move 27 Aeilnrst vs tomek188 Gamelink
  • Fastest resign: Resign on move 9 by badplayer_CM against EamonMont Gamelink

Finally as always feel free to join #lichessledger on slack if you want to help or contribute in any way to this newsletter.

Chess For You

An Interview with Thibault



It's always a struggle to come up with new content each week. I think most content creators are aware of this, and most consumers of content always undervalue the work behind the scenes that goes into the creation of that content. Thankfully I've had the foresight to ask prominent members of our online chess community for interviews and I've been fortunate in having so many of them accept. This week, I am excited to share an interview with someone that I'm sure has something to share and I'm sure readers would love getting to know a bit better: the founder of, Thibault Duplessis.

Thibault has produced an amazing product which in my opinion is often undervalued. He probably experiences great pressures in running the website. Many of the Lichess users would love the opportunity to have some sort of access to him. I’m just eternally grateful he said he'd do this interview. Thibault, I greatly sympathize with your situation (even if you don’t see it as something that deserves sympathy), admire your hard work and the innovations you’ve brought to online chess, and hope and believe that the project will continue to thrive and grow in exciting ways in the years to come.

# Personal Story

> Thibault, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions. First of all, I’m sure some users of Lichess would want to know more about the person behind the amazing site. What would you like to share about yourself?

Hi and thanks for having me. I'm a 32 years old French dude, who enjoys coding, chess, and traveling. I can ride a bike with no hands. That's how cool I am.

> Did you ever envision yourself founding and running a chess site and if not, what were your original plans? School/work?

About 7 years ago, I was happily coding websites for a French agency (hi, Intuiti). Ajax was all the rage back in the day; and my then current side project was about transmitting information near real-time from one browser to another. Since chess was my favorite game, the experiment naturally materialized into a simple chessboard web app. I open-sourced it on github as "lichess", and moved on to the next side project. What happened next was unexpected.

> Was chess a part of your life early on and if so, could you share some of your early experiences with chess?

My dad taught me how to play when I was a kid. I remember that early game when he warned me, "when my bishop comes into play, he will kill". It scared the shit out of me.

Then for my birthday I got a marvel of modern era technology: the Saytek Companion 1200 Chess Computer. Oh, the memories.

> You’re also a talented developer/programmer. Tell me a bit more about your roots with programming.

I started at middle school, by coding games in Basic, for calculators. With a friend. He later escalated to C++; I chose the way of the web. I was building free software for friends, mostly in PHP, python and Java. Did some 3D, some GUI, and plenty of PHP spaghetti code with terrible database abstractions. I wish I had learned about functional programming earlier.

> Chess and programming seem to be more related than they appear at first glance. Were you always thinking about doing something to combine the two?

Nope, it was an accident.

# The project

> At what point was the decision made to found Lichess, and why did you think you could be successful founding a new online chess server.

Lichess was just put online as yet another half-baked side-project, and the chess community picked it up. I hardly got a say in it. Never thought for a second it would be successful.

> Who was involved in the origins of Lichess and do you have any stories about the trials and tribulations you had at the beginning?

One day I realized that a handful of players were actually using Lichess. So I added a chat to the interface, out of curiosity, and met someone who would later register as "mb" - when user accounts became a thing. In the chat he yelled at me about all the bugs. Lichess wasn't even checking the moves’ legality. I fixed the bugs, and added new ones. Never quite stopped since then. Down the road, mb became the first Lichess moderator, and helped me heaps. Then one day he disappeared. See you, buddy.

> What were some of those original obstacles you had (forseen and unforseen) and how did you overcome them?

I hit hundreds of technical obstacles, of all kind, and I failed at writing decent code, over and over again. But since it was only a side project, there were zero deadlines, zero pressure. So I took the habit of deleting it all and trying it again with different technologies and paradigms. Lichess was a nice coding playground. I learnt a lot by failing at it.

> Lichess has grown tremendously and continues to add amazing new features. What have been some of your favorite features?

Years ago, I used to favor features that forced me to learn something new. About HTTP, databases, coding paradigms and languages.

Nowadays, I focus on features that are easy to build and add a lot of chess value. The recent "learn from your mistakes" is one of them.

> Are there any decisions you’ve regretted about the lichess project?

Lichess’ history is a succession of terrible mistakes, but I regret none of them. They are the only way I know of making progress.

Sometimes I have to trash the product of long weeks of work, like the global multi-channel chat, or the FICS relay. Wasted time? Maybe. Regrets? Nope.

> One tremendous plus of the project from a user’s perspective is that you promise that Lichess will remain free! Moreover, there are some consequences to that model as well (maybe attracting fewer titled players, minimal financial support for the team behind the site, etc). Tell me more about that decision.

Not everything has to be about money, and people are not just customers. I love the Internet and want to prove a point: not every service needs to be a profitable enterprise or an advertising billboard. A community of passionate people can also produce something good, through collaboration, and with humanist purposes.

Lichess has no investors, we owe nothing to no one. We also have no customers, no management, and no bias toward profitability. We're driven by our shared passion, and powered by the Internet chess community. Hurray!

> Can you talk a bit about the people who contribute their time and effort as moderators?

Lichess moderators are fantastic and deserve piles of hugs. Needless to say, nothing would work without them. They put in a fantastic amount of work helping and protecting the players. Just this week, 22 moderators contributed to make Lichess enjoyable to everyone. I can't mention them all here, can I?

Then there's other chess lovers helping with the code, the reviews, the sysadmin, answering emails, interacting on social media, providing servers for computer analysis, contributing translations…. Everything a chess website needs. I get way too much credit, really, and they don't get thanked enough. Thanks, guys. You rock.

> What features do you wish more people would help you develop?

Good developers are plenty, but designers are harder to find. Thanks to the project for the great material!

> Where do you see Lichess going in the future?

I'll put advertisements all over the place, make money, and buy myself a sport car. Just kidding. It will just remain what it is, a free-for-all, no-ads, no-bullshit, open-source chess server. I expect it will keep growing, as long as there's chess players finding out about it.  

# Online Chess and Lichess4545

> Let’s move back away from the Lichess project and talk more about online chess in general. One thing I’m sure you know all too well are the players who cheat and use computer assistance. How you are dealing with this never ending problem?

On the Internet, everyone is a dog; or a computer. The war is ultimately lost, but still we will fight all the battles; the only alternative is to give up on online chess for good. Not gonna happen.

People who cheat online, they don't realize how toxic it ends up being, for the entire chess community. Fortunately, most of them can be caught automatically, we've been working on detection systems for years. The other ones require a lot of moderator work. But eventually we catch them.

In my opinion, online chess cheating is overrated. It fascinates players and is one very popular conversation topic; but the situation is manageable, and pretty well handled.

> What unique aspects about the online chess world have you noticed? Also, are there any things you’d want to change about the online chess community?

It's a great community, of course! It produced Lichess. Our community is rich with helpful, thoughtful people, and also with talented engineers. I wish there were more women in our community, and maybe Lichess can help in some way with it, I don't know. Any ideas?

> There are factions of the online chess world that “hate” Lichess and even you personally. What is your reaction to that?

You may be referring to my personal facebook haters page: I totally recommend reading it all, the posts are fabulous. If only they would write new ones more often!

Apart from that, I don't know of a faction that holds a grudge against Lichess. We get our share of trash-mail from cheaters who got banned, but that's about it. Anything I missed?

> The Lichess4545 community appreciates all the support you’ve provided. What do you think of Lichess4545 now and where it’s headed?

It's a fantastic initiative, showcasing the strengths of the Internet chess community. I love it when people build new things on top of Lichess, and I look forward to opening more APIs to improve integration.

> I do remember you competed in the Lichess4545 league a few seasons ago. Any chance you’d return to playing either Lonewolf or 4545 games?

I certainly will play another season of lichess4545! It was great fun last time, and we did pretty well.

> Do you have any suggestions for the League?

Just keep doing what you're doing, the way you're doing it.

I'm just happy to see it growing so well on its own, like the mobile app.

# Some Fun Questions

> Did you have any chess heroes. If yes who were they/what did you admire about them and their chess?

Erm, no, sorry. But I do have programming heroes: Dennis Ritchie, Linus Torvalds, Rich Hickey, Simon Peyton Jones and Niklas Fiekas.

> Do you have a game of your own which you find memorable or instructive that you'd like to share?

I always love a good King’s Gambit game; here's one from my lichess4545 games:


> What are some hobbies and interests outside of the lichess project? Feel free to expand as much as possible!

I like to travel a lot. Been carrying my Linux laptop across various continents, looking for exotic

places where to write lichess code. As an anecdote, I refactored the database abstraction layer from a small boat on the Amazon river.

> What’s your favorite dish and favorite drink?

Filet Mignon with Roquefort, and a bottle of Saint Émilion. It's not snobbism: I'm French.

> Do you have a favorite place or city?

Not really, I can live pretty much anywhere. 

> What would you be doing if you weren't working on the project?

I'd be working on other open source projects, like I did before Lichess happened.

> Okay last question: Tell me a chess secret or a really important lesson you learned from chess.

Nothing ever happens the way you planned it.


Thibault, I'm so glad you were willing to share a bit of your story, a bit of the lichess story, and a few random thoughts. It's clear that your personality shines through in your answers and I feel a bit closer to a place where I spend a lot of time in the past few years. I hope our readers feel the same after reading this interview. I don't think we've gotten such an authentic and reliable account of the story before. I appreciate the chance to help record it.

As a side note, I’m glad to have had @petruchio's help. He has been invaluable in helping with this interview just as he is always there to make sure the ledger is up to snuff each week.


Chess Puzzle

From a round 4 game in 45+45 on board 6: @Wolf21 vs @MrPantz. White just played Bg6+. Black to move. 

For the answer see gamelink.



Creative Commons License

Lichess4545 Ledger #014 ©2017 by Thienan Nguyen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Thanks to @thibault for the Interview and @somethingpretentious and @lakinwecker for their contributions. Thanks to @petruchio for his help in editing this issue.