The Berlin Wall Holds. Short Draw in Game 1

10/4/2002 – After the game Vladimir Kramnik said that he was never really worried about losing the typical Berlin endgame that arose in his first game against Deep Fritz. The World Champion is the master of this line and Fritz was unable to take advantage of the white pieces. More

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During the game GM Nigel Short was explaining to the Fritz Team and the world that White actually had good chances to win these Berlin endgames, while most other pundits trusted that Kramnik would not have entered the position if it held any real danger for him.


Matthias Wullenweber shows Fritz's evaluation to German ambassador while Frederic Friedel puts the moves on the ambassador's daughter. Nigel Short looks on, perhaps still insisting that white had good winning chances in game one.

Kramnik surprised Kasparov in their 2000 world championship match with the Berlin and Kasparov was never able to break through. It is a rock-solid system that gives white more space and activity but is very hard to break through. Black has little more than passive defense available unless white makes a serious mistake. In front of an online audience of hundreds of thousands around the world, the champ made drawing against the world's strongest computer chessplayer look almost easy. Almost.

The final position was completely drawn, with the white king unable to make any progress even with an extra pawn. Of course Kramnik saw this coming a mile away, but Fritz was unable to see and avoid the blockade. It did not realize that its pawn advantage was completely useless. When Fritz played 25.h4 a quick smile appeared on Kramnik's face as it guaranteed a short and easy draw.


Kramnik faces Fritz operator Mathias Feist, who is one of ChessBase's lead programmers.

In the press conference Kramnik said that this was the best move on the board, while everyone had been condemning it as a mistake. But the champion was only having a little joke as he went on to say, "it's the best move because it was drawn anyway and this way we could all go home early!"

The Fritz team looked quite depressed for just having drawn the World Chess Champion. A clear flaw in their brainchild had been brutally exposed and there was no way to patch it up, at least not during the match. But it was not all frowns. "We wanted Kramnik to have to defend, and we accomplished that," said Matthias Wullenweber of ChessBase, "we just wish he had to work a little harder and longer."


The eight-processor Compaq machine Deep Fritz is using. Looks harmless enough, doesn't it?

Deep Fritz (2807) - Kramnik,V [C67]
Brains in Bahrain Man-Machine Match. Manama (1), 04.10.2002

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.Nc3 h6 10.b3 Ke8 11.Bb2 Be7 12.Rad1 a5 13.a4 h5 14.Ne2 Be6 15.c4 Rd8 16.h3 b6 17.Nfd4 Nxd4 18.Nxd4 c5 19.Nxe6 fxe6 20.Rxd8+ Kxd8 21.Bc1 Kc8 22.Rd1 Rd8 23.Rxd8+ Kxd8 24.g4 g6 25.h4 hxg4 26.Bg5 Bxg5 27.hxg5 Ke8 28.Kg2 ½-½

Game one, final position

Replay game here


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