Kramnik on Advanced Chess and Fritz

8/4/2002 – He tried it for the first time – and managed to beat three-time Advanced Chess champion Vishy Anand. "This form of chess is easier to play," says Vladimir Kramnik, "because you have to just find the right direction and the computer does the entire tactical work for you,"  The classical chess world champion also talks about his upcoming match against Fritz in this exclusive audio interview.

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From June 20 to June 24, 2002 Vladimir Kramnik and Viswanathan Anand played an Advanced Chess Match in Leon, Spain. In Advanced Chess both players are allowed to consult a computer, using databases and chess programs to analyse the position. In León they used ChessBase and the chess programs Fritz and Junior. Each player has one hour for the whole game.

The event was won by Kramnik, who won game three – all the other games were drawn. Immediately after the match he answered questions on Advanced Chess, his upcoming match against Deep Fritz and the general situation in the chess world. This video interview will appear in ChessBase Magazine 89. We bring you excerpts here. A full report on the Advanced Chess even in León 2002 can be found here.

CBM 89 interview with Vladimir Kramnik (Part one)

Note that you will need an Mpeg3 player installed on your system
to hear the compressed audio files given below


Click for audio

What is your general impressions of Advanced Chess?

It's a different kind of chess, actually. It's easier to play, because you have to just find the right direction and the computer does the entire tactical work for you. You spend less energy than in a regular game.


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How did you adapt to the new situation?

I have worked with computer programs for many years already, so I know when to listen to it and when not. The main problem is that you have a limited amount of time. When you work and prepare you have as much time as you want. If a position is interesting you can spend half an hour on it. In these games you have to stop where you need to stop and continue where you need to continue. For instance in the second game in a very critical position where I could get an advantage with a precise move I played too quickly.

 


A training session before the match

Which was your best game?

Games three and game five were my best games. In game five I played quite well and he made a couple of inaccurate moves. Then he got into serious trouble but he started to defend very well, which is what he usually does, even without a computer.


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How come there were five draws in this match?

Well, I'm surprised that it was not six draws. It is very difficult to win a game in Advanced Chess, and I don't understand why there were so many decisive games in previous years. Even without a computers, as you know it is quite difficult to win a game against a player like me or Anand. Remember Mainz 2001, with eight draws out of ten. With a computer, which checks for blunders it is even more difficult. Against a player like Vishy to win one game is an achievement. I was close to winning two game, that that would have been a great success. Also with faster time controls there could be more decisive games, but of course that also means the level is going down.

 

What is your opinion of the level of play with a computer?

Of course it is much higher than myself without the computer.


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How would you fare with the computer against a player like Leko, Topalov or Anand if they were not using a computer?

I would win, of course, and the other way around also. I cannot give you an exact performance rating, but it makes a huge difference. In classical chess it would probably be less profitable, but even there it makes a serious difference. In one-hour or 30 minute games it is absolutely decisive.

Kasparov said (after the first Advanced Chess match) that Topalov with a computer would crush him without a computer.

Yes, I agree. I never tried it, and I wouldn't like to do so. Maybe somebody else can go for this experiment. I don't know about "crush". It depends on style. I think that my style is so solid that even if someone is playing with a computer I can fight. But only fight and lose with a respectable score.


Exhausted after game six in León

How about a giant Internet qualification event including amateurs for next year's Advanced Chess?

Well, it makes sense. It is clear that with the computer the difference in playing strength is reduced. Normally I can beat a player of 2600 without great difficulty, but if we both have a computer it is already not so easy. At the highest level it is not just about understanding, the very top players are also better at everything - calculation, imagination. With the computer that is no longer so useful.

How about computers vs humans with computers? Do you think you could easily beat Fritz if you were allowed to use Fritz yourself?

Well, no question about that. Actually I hope I can manage to do it without using Fritz. But with it's help - maybe you can arrange to conduct this experiment.

How are your feelings about playing Fritz in Bahrain?

I don't know really. I will start my preparations maybe in August. The experiment is quite difficult, psychologically. I still need to see the development of this program, what is going on there.

You are watching the development, since you are getting new versions all the time. Do you see improvements?

I am sure there will be big improvements, because I can see that every new version is getting better and better, and I'm sure the Bahrain version will be better than the last commercial one. But that is not even the point. I know that it is going to be better, but I need to find out in what sense, in what kind of positions it is going to be better. That is very important to understand.


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What is the main weakness of Fritz?

Well, maybe after the match I will tell you (laughs).

You don't want to help us now?

No, no. I think that Fritz is strong enough as it is (sniffs).

Frederic Friedel


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