The most aggressive chess program in the world

2/14/2005 – Chess programs are know for their tactical strength, their ability to outcalculate any human player. But there is one that is more aggressive than its colleagues, always searching for the most daring moves on the board. . Deep Junior is, according to Aryan Argandewal, perfect for sharpening your attacking style.

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Deep Junior 9 – a review

By Aryan Argandewal

"The first and most important rule to observe is to use our entire forces with the utmost energy. After we have thought out everything carefully in advance and have sought and found without prejudice the most plausible plan, we must not be ready to abandon it at the slightest provocation. Should this certainty be lacking, we must tell ourselves that nothing is accomplished in warfare without daring; that the nature of war certainly does not let us see at all times where we are going…we must boldly advance into the shadows of uncertainty."

Karl Von Clausewitz, On War 1780

Regardless of whether we like chess programs or not, they have become an integral part of modern chess. They shape the very way we play the game, and this is true not just for club players but also for high-rank masters. If a club friend says: I never play programs, I only use them for analysis… do not believe him! We dread the fact that machines have become our tutors; this is the only plausible explanation of our distaste for silicon monsters.

Chess programs should be viewed not just for what they do against us, but also for what they do for us.

It is certainly true that a chess program lacks strategic depth of a grandmaster but this positional inferiority is well compensated by tactical brilliance. It is no secret that grandmasters, including those known for their combinational and aggressive play, will do everything to avoid open positions against computers. This fear stems not just from the overwhelming superiority of machines in calculation.

Let us face it: throughout the super tournament Wijk aan Zee, only games with complicated tactical positions were admired by the fans. During a live commentary of Bruzon-Kramnik, Round 1, Russian Grandmaster and commentator Sergej Shipov seemed visibly disappointed when the classical chess world champion refused to ‘test’ his young Cuban opponent and see whether the latter would sacrifice material on c7. After…26 Rxg5 there followed a long pause before Sergej Shipov, clearly struggling with his emotions, wrote: “A draw?? I am not going to be too harsh in my judgement. But Vladimir’s decision is disappointing. This is not how round-robin tournaments are won, if it is not Linares, that is. In Wijk aan Zee +2 does not guaranty first place.”

Chess programs, on the hand, will do everything to complicate the position, to bring the game into ‘their’ territory. Of course all chess programs play good tactics, but how exactly a tactical position is reached is an entirely individual characteristic of a program. Most programs will avoid the loss of material. This fundamental strategic approach is based on the military doctrine of quantification, that is, the side with more troops is more likely to be victorious, hence, no justification for the loss of material. So if the opponent offers material, take it! This also explains a lack of efficient numerical evaluation on the part of most chess programs that a sharp sacrificial line will involve.


The famous Bxh2 sacrifice Junior played against Garry Kasparov

I think that four-time world computer chess champion Deep Junior is a breath of fresh air in the computer chess scene. Outwardly it is little different from other chess programs – if you have a copy of Fritz you will not immediately notice the difference. But it takes only a few blitz games to realize how different the two really are.

Junior’s chess style is unlike anything you’ve played so far. It is incredibly forceful as far as rapid deployment of forces is concerned, in the opening stages. But that is only half the story. What really makes Junior a very special ‘opponent’ is the way it searches for the most daring moves on the board. Even compare to the world’s favourite Dr. Fritz, Junior stands better. Junior attacks with white and black. Obviously any program will take advantage of its opponent’s weak moves, but with Junior one gets the sense that slightest positional error on the part of human leads to a crushing attack which often involves breathtaking tactical blows. The program is incredibly strong in playing dynamic positions, which brings us to the following conclusion: those who strive on playing dynamic positions will find in Deep Junior a powerful tool in sharpening their attacking style while those who play static positions will hate to play against it! So if you enjoy playing closed or semi-closed positions this program is one thing you should stay away from!

Deep Junior graciously rewards your willingness to face sharp positions. If you invite the silicon monster to an unorthodox opening like the Tromp, you are in for a treat! A few moves down the opening you are faced with the sharpest line in Hodgson’s favourite opening. Against 1.e4 it almost certainly plays super risky lines like The Schveningen.

Brute force and dynamic play make Deep Junior probably the best chess program in the world. To put it simple: Deep Junior is the most exciting program I’ve seen to date. All credit to its creators: Amir Ban and Shay Bushinsky.

Highly recommended.

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