Deep Fritz wins game six to equalise

10/15/2002 – The computer went for a Queen's Indian today, giving the opponent a clear advantage but keeping its pieces – and especially its queen – on the board. On move 19 the world champion could not resist a piece sacrifice which could have made this game "the most beautiful of my career" (Kramnik). But Fritz found a brilliant defence and took the point. Here's our full illustrated report.

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A heroic game by Vladimir Kramnik and Deep Fritz

Instead of playing for a small advantage, Vladimir Kramnik played a stunning piece sacrifice on move 19 for a deadly attack on Fritz's king. The computer played flawless defense and Kramnik's attack slowly dried up. With just minutes on his clock Kramnik's position quickly fell apart against Fritz's counterattack and he resigned on move 34. A truly spectacular game that will require many days of man-machine analysis to understand completely.


Alex Kure with his notebook containg the Fritz opening preparation


Before the game Alex is allowed to tell Fritz which lines to play, under the
watchful eyes of the arbiter Enrique Irazoqui.

Before the game the Fritz team insisted that it wouldn't be easy for Kramnik to draw against the super-program. "We are going to go down fighting," said Frederic Friedel, "he'll be nervous after game five and we'll keep the pressure on him." Anyone betting on the result of this game could have earned 7 to 1 by putting their money on Fritz!


Mathias Feist of the Fritz team waiting for the champ to arrive

That would have been money well invested as Fritz got the best opening it had seen during the match. Not that it liked its position, but it was a very complicated one with most of the pieces still on the board. Kramnik went into a 42-minute think on move 17, his longest contemplation of the match. He came back to the board and unleashed the tremendous 19.Nxf7, sacrificing a full piece to force the black king out into the open.


Start of game six, with Vladimir Kramnik facing Mathias Feist

It was brilliant, and perhaps a little foolhardy at the same time. This is how Grandmasters often lose to computers. They get great attacking positions that just too complex to play against a program like Fritz that is seeing three million positions per second and can defend perfectly. You only need to miss one key move to go down in flames, and today that's just what happened to the world champion.


The game on the monitors around the playing site

Just as he was closing in for the kill Kramnik noticed what Fritz had seen many moves earlier, a defensive move that looked like a typographical error and that only a computer would find. Kramnik had planned 27.Qe6+ Nf6 28.f4, winning. What he missed was 28...Bh4!!, the only move that doesn't lose instantly and in fact, it wins the game for Black! Although he saw it in time, Kramnik was stunned by this discovery and was now facing a losing position with just 15 minutes on his clock.


The position in which Kramnik played 19.Nxf7!!? The game continued 19...Kxf7 20.Bd5+ Kg6 21.Qg4+ Bg5 22.Be4+ Rxe4 23.Qxe4+ Kh6 24.h4 Bf6 25.Bd2+ g5 26.hxg5+ Bxg5 27.Qh4+ Kg6 28.Qe4+ Kg7 29.Bxg5 Qxg5 30.Rfe1 cxb3 31.Qxd4+ Nf6 32.a5 Qd5 33.Qxd5 Nxd5 34.axb6 axb6 1-0.

Fritz mopped up quickly after that, gaining a passed b-pawn and swapping the queens to remove any hope Kramnik may have had of saving the game. Ironic to see Fritz eager to get the ladies off the board and Kramnik desperate to keep them on! Fritz ended with a flourish, offering its bishop for a chance to play b2 and Rc1. Instead, Kramnik resigned for the second game in a row.


Fritz author Frans Morsch with Vladimir Kramnik after the game

After the game the world champion said he had been unable to resist the beauty of the piece sacrifice. "It had the potential to be the best game I have ever played in my life." As it turned out, Kramnik gets the credit for a spectacular game and a wonderful effort, but Fritz gets the point. Kramnik was energized in the press conference after such a titanic struggle. "I'm not depressed. When you play such a wonderful game you can't be. It could have gone either way. Fritz played such great defense. I think I can still win the match."


Alex Kure, GM Julian Hodgson and GM Daniel King analysing the game

Replay the game with extensive analysis here.
Note that you can click on the notation to follow the moves

 


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