Friday, April 16, 2010

The Forklift

From humble beginnings in the early 1950s, chess-playing computers have now surpassed the strongest human players. Less than $100 is needed to buy one of the electronic warriors that gave so much trouble to GMs Garry Kasparov, Vladimir Kramnik, and Michael Adams in specially-arranged test matches.

Twenty years ago, when chess computers were first approaching master strength, an initiative was started to prohibit them from entering human tournaments. It was argued that trying to defeat a machine at chess would eventually be as futile as trying to win a powerlifting contest against a forklift.

In 2009, a FIDE Category 6 tournament with a mostly human entry was won by a mobile phone.

These days many authorities proclaim the futility of trying to defeat a top chess-playing program. Instead it is recommended that players use such programs to analyse their own games and identify and perhaps correct their mistakes.

I recently acquired a copy of Fritz 12, the newest version of one of the best-selling chess programs of all time. Never mind the advice from the experts. When the DVD arrived at my study, I installed the program, set the time control for 5 minutes each, and banged out my first move 1.e4. Here is the resulting game:

Dadian-Fritz 12, G/5, Port Coquitlam 2010

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.Bd3 Nc6 5.c3 Nf6 6.Bf4 g6 7.Nf3 Bg7 8.0-0 0-0 9.h3 a6 10.a4 Nh5 11.Bh2 Bh6 12.Re1 Bf4 13.Bxf4 Nxf4 14.Bc2 f6 15.Qd2 (diagram) 15...e5 16.dxe5 fxe5 17.Nxe5 Qg5 18.Ng4 h5 19.Ne3 Ne5 20.Kf1 Bxh3 21.gxh3 Nf3 0-1

Well, that was a sobering experience. I thought the exchange variation of the Caro-Kann was supposed to be a safe way for White to play, but I guess not.

Of course my first big mistake was 16.dxe5, which opened the f-file and also allowed Black's queen to get to g5. Replace 16.dxe5 with 16.Qe3 and White should be fine.

On the very next move I made my second big mistake 17.Nxe5, which allowed Black to set up a winning attack with 17...Qg5. Instead of taking the e-pawn there was the interesting option of counterplay with 17.Bb3.

After 17...Qg5 I managed to grovel for a few moves but the issue was settled after 20...Bxh3!

I suppose there is some risk of embarrassment in publishing this game, but here I will appeal to the reader's conscience.

About Me

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Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada
National master (Canada) since 1984. B.C. Champion 1977 and 1984. Runner-up 1991 and 2002. B.C. Open Champion 1972 and 1982. B.C. U/14 Champion 1964-65-66. Mikhail Botvinnik once wrote that publishing your analytical work forces you to be accurate because it exposes you to criticism. Hence this blog.