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November 6, 2003

Church of the 64 Squares

From the Church of the 64 squares, a reliable source of wisdom and humilty, Igor writes: Now, if you remember, not long ago I sent you a couple of games I played against Rascal*. The subject line of the email was the "next victim". Here we are, a week later and Rascal does the same thing. The only difference this time is that Rascal's rating is over a hundred points higher. And of course, I played 26.Qh6 - instead of 26.Bh6 as I did in the previous game, a home improvement. Here is my question. Who is running this thing, that it can't learn anything, could it be some Republican? *Rascal is a computer program that plays chess on ICC Here is a link to the games that will allow you to play through the moves. And yes Igor, it was undoubtedly a Republican....

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October 21, 2003

Fight Your Fears

Not long ago Chris posted links to articles by Jeff Sonas discussing the man vs machine competition in chess and makes the claim that the players are improving at a rate equal to that of the computers. International Master Igor Ivanov recently sent me a game he played at the Internet Chess Club Many programers test there programs there since there are so many titled players willing to play against the computers. Igor often plays against the computers there and has gained real insight into how they play and the dangers they pose. But there are truisms in chess that apply whether you are playing against the machine or another human. This is a great game since Igor risks much by gambiting a couple of pawns for a lead in development. Interestingly the computer he played against on this ocassion is named Man vs. Machine. Play through it you'll enjoy and game as well as Igor's notes. igormvsmc.vchd Ivanov, I - Man vs Machine Computer Internet Chess Club, 2003 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. c3 dxc3 5. Bc4 A very important moment. To learn chess you have to fight your fear of losing, even if you are dealing with a machine that is very smart and also very stupid, at the same time. It is said, and well known that to give material to a machine is an incredible risk and so it is, but you take it.5. ... cxb2 6. Bxb2 Bb4+ 7. Nc3 Nf6 8. e5 Ng4 9. 0-0 0-0 If Black cannot snatch the pawn at e5 then 7... Nf6 must be a mistake and 7 ... d6 should be tried instead.10. Nd5 And now Black is cooked it appears.10. ... Bc5 11. h3 Nh6 12. g4 this opens the King of course, but restraining the Black Knight on h6 justifies the risk 12. ... b6 This looks like a perfect loss of a tempo, but did I not say that the machine is stupid.13. Qd2 d6 14. Nf6+ 14. ... gxf6 15. Qxh6 dxe5 16. Rad1 Nd4 17. Bxd4 Bxd4 18. Rxd4 Why? well I had to save the Knight on f3 is needed for the final assualt18. ... exd4 19. Bd3 f5 20. Ng5 that is why the rook was sacrificed. 20. ... Qxg5 21. Qxg5+ Kh8 22. Qf6+ Kg8 23. gxf5 Black is now dead of course, but it is a very delicious exercise to finish off your enemy, most painfully, ask any of the true believers.23. ... Bb7 24. Kh2 Rfd8 25. Rg1+ Kf8 26. Re1 losing a tempo to win one, what a wonderful concept.26. ... Kg8 27. Qg5+ Kh8 28. Rg1 Rg8 29. Qf6+ Rg7 30. Qxg7# 1-0...

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October 9, 2003

Man vs. Machine - Who is Winning?

"Every year computers are becoming stronger at chess, holding their own against the very strongest players. So very soon they will overtake their human counterparts. Right? Not necessarily, says statistician Jeff Sonas, who doesn't believe that computers will inevitably surpass the top humans. In a series of articles Jeff presents empirical evidence to support his claim." Jeff Sonas points out that humanity's chess abilities are improving as well and cannot be held static in comparison to the improvements made on computer hardware and chess software. Read his article on the Chessbase Website. UPDATE: Part II of Jeff Sonas' article is up. In this part he discusses evidence that the rate of improvement for computers and the rate of improvement for top Grandmasters is currently neck and neck....

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September 8, 2003

Geri's Game

On, I found a link to an excellent short animation film by Pixar Studios about an old man playing chess here. This is a great little short film. You will need the quicktime 5 viewer to watch it. You can download the quicktime viewer, if you don't already have it, for free at

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The Chess Artist

I have always a slight feeling of pity for the man who has no knowledge of chess. just as I would pity the man who has remained ignorant of love.—Siegbert Tarrasch The Chess Artist: Genius, Obsession, and the World's Oldest Game by J. C. Hallman is a must read if you love the game, or if you are just curious about what it is that evokes such passion. He has described what it is to be a chess player. He captures the yes I know I spend too much time at the game, and I don't give a damn. The I can't help myself. The I could stop, maybe I could, but I don't want too. It was a trip down memory lane for me, capturing many of the experiences I've had over the years. Many of the characters are the same I've encountered in my obsession with the game. Nick de Fermian who taught me about the beauty of the Queen sacrifice*, and Carol Jarecki the queen of arbiters that I had the pleasure of assisting several times at the National Open in Las Vegas to mention just two. The story of the Chess Artist is of the author J. C. Hallman and Glenn a strong master who represents both the obsessed and the artist of the title. During a visit to Kalmykia to visit Kirsan Ilylumzhinov the current president of Kalmykia and F.I.D.E. the international chess body, brought this observation from the author. A chess nation sounded strange to a western ear, but Glenn and I were coming from a culture where many children and not a few adults spent countless hours and dollars playing mindelss games on their television sets. Chess was arguably beneficial. So who was absurd. and this: We met Basaev in Galzanov's office. Galzanov and Glenn played blitz in a corner as Bambusha translated Basaev's story. Basaev call himself a folklorist. Chess problems were his hobby. The story he was telling mixed the two: a short folk tale that accompanied the chess problem he now pushed accross the table to me. I looked over the jumbled profiles scattered across a diagram four centimeters square: White to move, mate in four. "The peasant who had already lost his animals, he now has white. The other has black. We clearly cannot covet white. Black has clear advantage. The Kalmyk playing white only has his last sheep to bet. The position is very bad. He is embarrassed, and he is almost ready to resign." International intrigue, history, the obsessed, and even a bit of instruction round out a well written book. *Queen Sacrifice Norm Jenson - Nick de Fermian National Open, Las Vegas 1993 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 b6 5. Nf3 Bb7 6. a3 Bxc3+ 7. Qxc3 0-0 8. e3 d6 9. Be2 Nbd7 10. 0-0 Ne4 11. Qc2 f5 12. b4 c5 13. Rd1 Qe7 14. Bb2 Ndf6 15. dxc5 bxc5 16. Ne1 Ng4 17. Nd3 Rac8 18. Rac1 cxb4 19. axb4 Qh4 20. Bxg4 fxg4 21. Qe2 Rf5 22. g3 Nc3 23. Qc2 Qxh2+ of course on Kxh2 comes Rh5+ and Rh1 mate...

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August 25, 2003

Kasparov vs. X3D Fritz

Match Drawn Final Score Kasparov 2 Fritz 2 Kasparov will play against another computer program in November. ESPN will broadcast a whopping 17.5 hours of the match! This time it will be the Fritz engine, one of the best five chess programs in the world. This version of the program includes X3D technology which creates a virtual 3D board. Check back here for game scores as the games are played. For more details go to Kasparov vs X3D Fritz - Schedule (EST): Game 1: Nov. 11 1:00 pm Game 2: Nov. 13 1:00 pm Game 3: Nov. 16 1:00 pm Game 4: Nov. 18 1:00 pm. ... ESPN 2 The fritz program is running on 4 intel 2.8 ghz processors and looks at 4,000,000 positions per second, that translates to an 18 ply search in under 4 minutes. Game one (Tuesday November 11) an incredibly exciting first game found Fritz repeating the position to force a draw. Kasparov repeated the opening he played against Junior. He won the game against Junior, but although he had chances against Fritz he was unable to win. "The position was not easy technically. I think I missed a chance to consolidate my position. I was worrying a lot about the screen. I knew before this match that I could have some psychological problems with this technology."—Kasparov Kasparov blundered in game two, overlooking a simple tactic and resigned several moves later. He looked devastated. You would expect now that the computer will win the match Kasparov will be lucky to end up with a tie. I believe the 3D format, having to use the glasses and not touching pieces and keeping score are a reall handicap for Kasparov. You spend 25 years playing the game one way and then are forced to play without touching pieces one would have to be uncomfortable at the least. Kasparov I think would have been more comfortable with a simple 2d display something he has experience with having played numerous games online. Kasparov won game 3 although I'm not sure the Fritz programmers resigning down a pawn in a technically lost position is a win I would want. It is difficult to win against the computer even up a pawn and I would have liked to see more moves. Humans blunder as the previous game demonstrates. So what we have here is an attempt to keep television ratings up by having a tied match going into game 4. Understandable, but from the point of view of a chess player disappointing. Okay so I'm full of it. Having spent some time analyzing the final position the computer was dead lost. If I can find the win Kasparov certainly would have no problem. Game 4 ended in a draw resulting in a tied match. I thought Kasparov's choice of Queens Gambit Accepted was a poor one. The opening usually leads to open positions which would favor tactics over strategy, a plus for the computer. Kasparov deviated from a game he won against Kramnik in the same opening where he exchanged his Queen for a Rook Bishop and Pawn and went on to win instead choosing 14. Be6 rather than the mentiond Nxf4. The game soon petered out into a drawn position. So the question of who plays the better chess Man or Machine will have to be answered another day. The computer will be stronger. Will the human have refined his play against the Machine, I'll be looking forward to the answer that question. Game 1 Kasparov - Fritz 1/2 1/2 Game 2 Fritz - Kasparov 1 - 0 Game 3 Kasparov - Fritz 1-0 Game 4 Fritz - Kasparov 1/2 1/2 View Games in Java Viewer use the down and up arrows to toggle between games, or click on the small board at the bottom for a list of games. Download Games in pgn format View Game 1 HTML with diagrams View Game 2 HTML with diagrams View Game 3 HTML with diagrams View Game 4 HTML with diagrams...

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August 1, 2003

The Turk

Chris recently attended the National Chess Open in Las Vegas and posted a picture of a replica of the automaton chessplayer, known as "The Turk." A fanciful account of The Turk was made into a silent movie and is now available on DVD. Peter Nichols writes about it in the New York Times. Silent Classic About a Marvel By PETER M. NICHOLS We have the chess-playing computers Deep Junior and Deep Blue. Now meet the Turk, a turbaned automaton from the 1770's that not only played the game but also defeated virtually everybody it came up against in matches across Europe. In Raymond Bernard's highly entertaining 1927 silent classic "The Chess Player," released this week on DVD and VHS by Milestone, the vanquished include Catherine the Great, who has the device shot shortly before dawn for the crime of l�se-majest�. Bernard's film, adapted from a novel by Henry Dupuy-Mazuel, makes a wildly fanciful drama of a true story. Carved figures with machinery inside to make them move were in vogue in 1769 when an Austrian court official named Wolfgang von Kempelen announced that he would produce an automaton like no other. The Turk was a life-size figure seated atop a wooden cabinet filled with wheels, gears and who knew what else. It moved chess pieces with its left arm. The DVD includes a radio interview with Tom Standage, author of "The Turk: The Life and Times of the Famous 18th-Century Chess-Playing Machine" (Walker, 2002). By the early 1800's, Mr. Standage says, there was a blurring of science and magic. Technology could do anything, or so it was thought. People knew the device had to be a trick, but they also wanted to believe that a machine could think like a human....

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May 24, 2003

Ringers And Rules

Chess teams checkered by recruiting practice College: Some complain about grandmasters as old as 40 competing in tournaments. On the college chess circuit, there are certain maxims: Advance your pawns, protect your king -- and don't be surprised if your opponent has gray hair. College chess, once the domain of 20-year-old whiz kids, has a ringer problem, players and officials say. Increasingly, the elite college teams -- most notably, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County -- are prospering by offering large scholarships to recruit grandmasters as old as 40 to represent them at tournaments. "It's disillusioning," said Lubos Pastor, 29, a finance professor at the University of Chicago who played for its team as a graduate student. "You go to play in [a tournament] and say, 'Hey, I saw that guy in Chess Life magazine! I didn't know he was a student at such and such university.'" Nothing much has changed. This tournament or perhaps it is just chess tournaments in general attract controversy, but probably it is just humans doing what they do best. I remember an incident that occurred a number of years ago at this same tournament. The following conversation is accurate though some names have been changed. We negotiated for weeks for Phillip to play in the Pan American Collegiate Chess Tournament, but the local organizer was unbending so we contacted the USCF for their help, but although they had said he could play if he was qualified we anticipated problems. We all arrived for registration at 3:30 p.m. The five team members including Phillip, and Lorus who had been the person negotiating with the local organizer during the past month were there. Donald the tournament organizer saw us coming across the lobby and met us in front of the door to the playing room."He's not playing in my tournament!",said Donald. "Where's the Tournament Director," Roger responded, "this is an USCF sanctioned tournament. The USCF has said that if he meets the qualifications to play he can play."the local organizer motions to the security guard who is walking across the lobby towards us."Security, here is the "person" I told you about please remove him from the building. "The security guard motions to Phillip to follow him. "Hold on a minute, there is a lot more to this than what you've heard. There are two sides to this, and I'm sure the hotel doesn't want to get sued!" said Roger. I want him out of here now!" shouts Donald."Just hold on a minute, we need to talk about this," said Roger. A crowd of curious onlooker has gathered. Everyone it seems are attracted to controversy. Mr. Brown the Tournament Director finally arrives and Roger immediately shows him a letter from the USCF."Yes yes," Mr. Brown says, this is the December 19th letter. I've seen this and in fact have talked to Mr. Winston about it. It is also required that a team is sponsored by an affiliate. The University affiliate is apparently not sponsoring this team, so they wouldn't qualify."Phillip and the other team members have an affiliate," said Roger, 'Friends of the University' I paid for an affiliation this morning.""He's not playing, I contracted with the hotel for the rooms and he's not playing," screamed Donald, "You stole clocks and sets at the U.S. Open didn't you Phillip? I won't have a sleazy little thief in my tournament. Well! didn't you? "Roger said, "Don't answer that Phillip! This is a USCF tournament and all the team members including Phillip can play!"Turning to the security guard, Phillip says, "Do you want me to wait outside while you settle this?""Please", said the guard." I'll come and get you as soon as we get this resolved", said Lorus. "I've heard enough," said Dan Brown, "and as the official representative of the USCF I say that Phillip and his teammates are eligible to play in the tournament."Well, It's my tournament and I rented the rooms and he's not playing," said Donald "Our contract is with Mr. Lither, and if he doesn't want him in the rooms he has rented, then we will respect his wishes," said the security guard. So Phillip was allowed to play though not in usual sense. His assigned opponents were not as crazy as the organizer and agreed to play their games with him in the lobby. His first opponent a fellow from New York, if I recall the story accurately, arrived in the lobby. I'm not sure I understand why you can't play in the tournament hall. Do you have some sort of disease or something. No nothing like that said Phillip. Well okay, chess is chess it doesn't much matter where we play the game, he said. Indeed....

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March 12, 2003

Checkmate or Stalemate

The Iraq Showdown As a Matter of Chess -Raymond Keene GM Chess is a mind game, the objective of which is to checkmate or kill the opposing king. Ultimately that is the only way to win, unless an opponent, staring inevitable defeat in the face, voluntarily opts to resign... Bush's huge buildup of troops in the Persian Gulf is a clear parallel with massing forces around the enemy king prior to delivering the checkmating blow. Usually this succeeds, but I have seen inexperienced players with a huge material advantage but unskilled in king-hunting chase a sole enemy king around the board only to blunder into stalemate. continued...

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March 11, 2003

What The Fuck?

For this first time since 1998 Garry Kasparov was not the winner at the Linares Super Grandmaster tournament. Not only didn't he win but his loss to Radjabov was awarded the best game prize. Kasparov's outburst over beauty prize in Linares Justice should be blind, but should beauty? At the closing ceremony the prize for the most beautiful game went to Kasparov-Radjabov. The teen's win over the #1 was a landmark moment, but Radjabov had a losing position and it took a "??" move from Kasparov to create the upset. Kasparov erupted at the ceremony and went after the journalists who had voted. Who was wrong? Leko won the tournament, funny how the big story is Kasparov's outburst at the closing ceremony. The disputed game Download Linares Games in pgn format....

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February 6, 2003

The Death of Chess?

In a recent article Dr. Ray Kurzweil, the inventor of optical character recognition used in flat bed scanners amongst other things, has suggested that once computers get better than humans at chess, we will lose interest in this venerable game. �Deep Fritz-like chess programs running on ordinary personal computers will routinely defeat all humans later in this decade. Then we'll really lose interest in chess.� This article was written after a match between world champion Vladimir Kramnik and Deep Fritz, programmed by Frans Morsch of Germany. The eight game match was tied 4-4. Gary Kasparov, who has the highest rating in the world, is currently playing Deep Junior. �Deep� in these names refers to the use of more than one processor in parallel. After 5 games at the time of writing the match is tied 2.5-2.5. There is only one game left and Kasparov will have black. It is likely that this match will be a tie or that the computer will win. If Deep Junior wins this match, should we lose interest in chess? I think it is a strange attitude Dr. Kurzweil has here about the relation of computers and humans in chess. I have no doubt his prediction that desktop computers will regularly beat the best humans within a short amount of time is true. But why should this cause us to lose interest in the game of chess. The fact that Kasparov can beat me every time in a game of chess doesn't mean that I should lose interest in the game. The same applies to the situation between computers and humans. We don't lose interest in the 100 yard dash because an automobile can defeat the fastest humans every time. I think it is a tribute to the human mind that we have held out against computers this long. The only thing we might lose interest in is computer v human competitions. Human v human competition in chess will always be interesting regardless of how strong computers get....

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January 22, 2003

Kasparov vs Junior

Kramnik only managed a draw in his match against Deep Fritz with very favorable rules will Kasparov fare better against Junior. If you are looking for the Kasparov - X3D Fritz Match Here is an interesting report on the upcoming match from the N.Y. Times (registration required) On Sunday, he begins a six-game $1 million match against an Israeli program, Deep Junior, the three-time world computer chess champion. The match will be played at the New York Athletic Club, and the games will be shown in real time on the Web here and here. The play will start at 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 26, 28, and 30, and on Feb. 2, 5, and 7. Each game will last at most seven hours. Photo by Chip East/Reuters The Games Final Result Current Score Kaparov 3.0 Deep Junior 3.0 Important News Final Game on TV CHESS: Garry Kasparov takes on Deep Junior Kasparov faces the I.B.M. computer calculating three million moves per second! 3:30 p.m. - 7 p.m. ESPN2 (time eastern GMT -5) Game 1 Kasparov-Deep_Junior 1-0 Game 2 Deep Junior - Kasparov 1/2-1/2 Game 3 Kasparov - Deep Junior 0-1 Kasparov after obtaining an opening advantage frittered it away and then refused to take advantage of a forced draw overlooking an excellent move by the computer and was forced to resign a few moves later. Rh5 was the losing move.. Game 4 Deep Junior - Kasparov 1/2-1/2 Game 5 Kasparov - Deep Junior 1/2-1/2 Looks like Kasparov had found a weakness in Juniors opening play to exploit Junior obliges by taking the greek gift 10 Bh7+ so why does Kasparov not play 15. g3 a move most Grandmaster commentators thought was simply winning. Analysis in the next few days should be interesting. Did Kasparov just wimp out or was there something the rest did not see. Game 6 Deep Junior - Kasparov 1/2-1/2 A major disappointment Kasparov decided he would rather draw in a better position than take a chance on losing. He offered a draw the computer team turned it down Kasparov played another move the computer then played and offered a draw of its own Kasparov accepted. I think this was bad for chess ESPN televised the game and I doubt will bother again. Imagine its the fourth quarter the score is tied and the teams agree they don't want to lose and walk off the field. Kasparov's explanation that the costs of a possible mistake were to high. If you are playing another human if you make a mistake there is still a chance your opponent will make a mistake allowing you another chance. With the computer you don't get a second chance. He alluded to the 1997 match against Deep Blue that he lost. The memory of that loss was obviously more than he could deal with and hence the draw. View Games Java Viewer Final note: viewer loads the first game for a list of games click on small chessboard icon . Optionally you can use the up and down arrows to cycle through the games. Download Games (pgn)Final Bonus Coverage Bareev 2.0 - HiarcsX 2.0 Final The Kasparov - Junior match is not the only computer Grandmaster game in town Bareev the number eight ranked player in the world is currently playing a 4 game match against HiarcsX . Hiarcs is touted as playing the most human chess of all the chess playing computers. The match finshed tied if you would like to view the games on the Java Viewer I have included them with the Junior Kasparov games. Simply click on the file cabinet to choose the Hiarcs games. Here is a link to the official Bareev - Hiarcs site. Dowload Bareev-HiarcsX games in pgn format Kasparov, Computer Talk Smack...

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January 19, 2003

U.S. Chess Championship 2003

Alexander Shabalov Wins U.S. Chess Championship SEATTLE -- With a stunning queen sacrifice, Latvian-born Grandmaster Alexander Shabalov of Pittsburgh defeated an up-and-coming rival to win the U.S. Chess Championship. It took Shabalov 61 moves over almost six hours Saturday night to beat 19-year-old Varuzhan Akobian, an Armenian who lives in Glendale, Calif., for the $25,000 prize, the biggest in the tournament's history. Alexander Shabalov - Varuzhan Akobian Decisive Game Final Round All US Championship Games Java Viewer Download Games as Portable Game Notation File (pgn)...

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