Women in Red goes down to the Computer

6/13/2004 – It is with a touch of melancholy that we report the loss, in game two, by a very bright young lady to a notebook computer. Ex world champion Zhu Chen suffered her second loss to the 64-bit Star of Unisplendour. In game one the Chinese girl had dominated, in game two it was the machine all the way. Here's an illustrated report...

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Woman vs Machine match in Beijing

Zhu Chen, who is studying for her master's degree in China's prestigious Tsinghua University, and is also expecting her first child, took on the pride of the sponsor Tsinghua Unisplendour, a spanking new laptop called the "Star of Unisplendour", which sports an advanced AMD 64 bit 3400+ CPU and 2 GB RAM. The program blazing away on this machine was Fritz 8, which thrived not just on the speed but also on the 64-bit registers of the processor.

The combination Unisplendour + Fritz was having a spot of trouble against the ex world champion on Tuesday, when Zhu took a pawn and was looking for a win. Unfortunately she pressed too hard, committed the inevitable little error and was mercilessly punished by the machine.


Struggling against the almost perfect play of the machine

In game two, staged on Saturday, "the computer played an almost perfect game" (as China View reports) to win in 33 moves. "The pregnant Zhu struggled to revenge her first loss to the computer on Tuesday, but lost control of the game after making several mistakes."

Zhu Chen (2493) - Star of Unisplendour(Fritz 8) [A15]
Match AMD 64 3400+ Beijing (2), 12.06.2004
1.c4 Nf6 2.d3 e5 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.e3 d5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.a3 Bg4 7.b4 a6 8.Be2 Bd6 9.Bb2 0-0 10.Nbd2 Re8 11.Rc1 Qf6 12.0-0 Rad8 13.Re1 Qh6 14.Ne4 Nf6 15.Nxd6 Rxd6 16.Qb3 Qg6 17.Kh1.

This is the kind of open, unbalanced and purely tactical position that computers love. Unisplendour Fritz can hold back no longer and starts its assault on the white kingside: 17...e4 18.dxe4 Nxe4 19.Kg1 Qh5 20.Red1 Rg6 21.Kf1.

In this daunting position Zhu has just played 21.Kg1-h1, understandably wanting to get her king out of the line of fire. Possibly 21.Rxc6 Rxc6 22.h3 would have brought some relief. But now the computer is in its element: 21...Bh3 22.gxh3 Qxh3+ 23.Ke1 Qg2 24.Rd7 Qh1+ 25.Bf1 Qxf3 26.Rc2 Rg1 27.Qd5 Rf8 28.Qd3 Qg2 29.Rxc7.

Now watch UniFritz finish this one off: 29...Rd8 30.Bd4 Ne5 31.Bxe5 Rxf1+ 32.Qxf1 Rd1+ 33.Kxd1 Qxf1 mate 0-1.

"Playing against a computer is very interesting," said Zhu at the press conference after the match. "The computer played very well and made no mistakes. But I made some. Despite the losses, I have become more interested in the game and will try to play more with computers."


Chess queen Zhu Chen

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