Kramnik - Deep Fritz About to Get Underway

10/4/2002 – Before the press conference there was the obligatory photo shoot with the obligatory local children, who had been corralled on short notice. Even money says that maybe one of them knew how to play chess and 5 to 1 that any of them had heard of Kramnik before. But they are darned cute, we admit it. After that the champ was ready for more serious business: the pre-match press conference. The first game is Friday, Oct. 4 at 3pm local time, 12pm GMT. Log into the Playchess server for live chat and commentary. You can also follow the match live on our new Flash applet with onsite commentary from the elite team assembled in Bahrain. (Left: "Deep Fritz" in Arabic!) More

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Kramnik Displays Confidence on Eve of Match

Opening statements were presented by Shaikh Zeyad bin Baisal Al Khalifa of the Bahraini General Organization of Youth and Sport (GOYS) and event organizer/promoter Justin Ricketts. They were mercifully short and then the dozens of reporters had a chance to interrogate the adversaries. (A full transcript and photo gallery are forthcoming.) Deep Fritz was ably represented by Frederic Friedel of Team Fritz in the Q&A session. Isn't it just like a sports star to speak to the press only through a spokesperson?


Frederic Friedel wonders how many nodes per second Kramnik reaches.

The Kingdom of Bahrain was a hot topic and the participants did an impressive job of coming up with more than the usual "it's a lovely place, it's great to be here, wonderful people, where are we again?" that you often hear in these press conferences. The parts about chess "coming back to its roots" might have surprised any Indian listeners, but the point was taken that the Gulf region was of great importance in the historical development of mathematics and so can claim an ancestry in computation. (Okay, we're really stretching here.)

Both Kramnik and the ChessBase team have been impressed with the dedication the Bahraini government is making to mind sports. The match has also had a big impact in the local media, getting full-page coverage every day. Local television was on hand for the press conference and they were interviewing just about anybody they could get their hands on, including commentators Nigel Short and Danny King. (Left: Mig being interviewed, and not about fashion or fitness tips.) One highlight was hearing Nigel, stunned by the bright TV lights, say "Kasparov" instead of "Kramnik" twice and then quickly correct himself. The former world championship challenger has also kept the people in the press center entertained with his creative cursing as he plays online blitz chess between interviews.

Kramnik expressed his usual brand of quiet confidence. He refused to be drawn out by questions regarding the result of the match, but repeatedly emphasized that he considered Deep Fritz a "very serious opponent" and that he had prepared extensively both on and off the board. "I expect a very hard match and physical condition is more important than ever when you are playing a computer that never gets tired."

Kramnik was pragmatic about the final score, saying that he would be happy to get the 4.5 necessary points to win the eight game contest. "The most important thing is to win, so 4.5 is an agreeable score. A draw would be less good, but that depends on how it happens. If I am under a lot of pressure in every game than I might be happy to have a 4-4 score at the end." This statement illustrates Kramnik's dangerous professionalism. Never a maximalist he will be content to take his chances when they come without forcing the action. Humans usually get into trouble against comps when they push too hard in superior positions, something Kramnik is not likely to do.

Friedel was also guarded, but admitted that his team would be very proud of a drawn match against the World Champion. "Even scoring three or three and a half points would be satisfactory for us. And if we score 4.5 we will of course be ecstatic."

The shade and shadow of Deep Blue were invoked by the press many times and both players were well prepared for the "Deep Blue Attack." "I've looked at those six games [Deep Blue-Kasparov, 1997] and I am completely sure that Deep Fritz is the stronger program," said Kramnik. "Kasparov made some mistakes in how he played in that match, sure, but I won't say yet what they were."

Friedel was less categorical in his reply to the same question. He first explained that while Deep Blue searched 200 million positions per second compared to Deep Fritz's 3-4 million, much of Deep Blue's parallel searching was wasted as many of its dozens of chips were looking at the same thing. "Another important difference is that Deep Fritz is a commercial product while Deep Blue was running on a supercomputer and 15 million dollars were invested by IBM in the project. But Fritz is definitely not weaker than Deep Blue," he concluded.

We hope you join us for our live broadcast on Oct. 4! There will be live commentary for all levels and you can follow along in real time. Which of the Brains in Bahrain will prevail, neurons or neutrons?


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