Matches of the best human players against computer programs are very common nowadays as the question of human or computer superiority in chess is still open and more than ever. Last year Kramnik drew 4:4 against Fritz in Bahrein and Kasparov scored 3:3 against Deep Junior in New York at the beginning of this year. Can one side change this now?
In the first game Kasparov had good chances, but could not use them in slight time trouble. But see for yourself:
1.Nf3 Does Kasparov play like this to avoid the Tarrasch variation of the Queen's Gambit or is this the best move order in his opinion to reach a Meran? Mig: 'Kasparov almost always opens with 1.e4 these days, at least against humans. But over the course of his 25 year professional career he has played just about everything.'
1...d5 2.c4 c6 3.d4 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 Mig: 'Logical and normal development into what is called the Slav Defense. This is a well-known system that is particularly well-known to Garry Kasparov! The X3D Fritz team shows no fear and heads right into Kasparov's strength. They wanted to show they didn't fear his preparation. This choice is also relevant because in Kasparov's last computer match, against Deep Junior in January '03, he crushed the machine in this exact opening in the first game!'
5.e3 Nbd7 6.Qc2 Bd6 [ 6...b6 7.cxd5 exd5 8.Bd3 Be7 9.Bd2 0-0 10.g4 Nxg4 11.Rg1 Ndf6 0-1 Kasparov,G-DEEP JUNIOR/New York USA 2003/(36)]
7.g4 Mig: 'A very aggressive move that offers a pawn in exchange for attacking chances. If Black captures the pawn with ..Nxg5 White gets a lot of pressure on the open g-file. Kasparov has played this position three times, twice with white and once with black! He won all three games, including one against the computer program Deep Junior earlier this year.'
7...Bb4 Mig: 'A normal move still in the "book" of both players. X3D Fritz has almost three million positions in its library of opening moves and sequences. Kasparov is legendary for his opening preparation and knowledge. He is a walking encyclopedia of opening theory and his opponents have a healthy fear of his surprises in the openings. This move also takes the game away from the game Kasparov won against Deep Junior in this line. That's a sort of psychological advantage, being the first to spring something unexpected. Between two humans it could also be sort of like a game of chicken, with the first player to turn off from the previous game being the chicken. No matter how well it plays chess, this aspect is lost on X3D Fritz. It is not, however, lost on its creators and operators! ' [ 7...dxc4 8.Bxc4 ( 8.g5 Nd5 9.Bxc4 Nxc3 10.bxc3 e5<=> ; 8.e4 e5! 9.g5 Ftacnik,L. 0-1 Adams,M-Kasparov,G/Dortmund 1992/CBM 29/22) ( 9.dxe5 Nxe5 10.Nxe5 Bxe5 11.g5 Nh5=/+ ) ; 8.g5 Nd5 9.Bxc4 Nxc3 10.bxc3 e5<=> ; 8.Bxc4 Anand) 8...b6 9.e4 e5 10.g5 Nh5 11.Be3 0-0 12.0-0-0 Qc7 13.d5 b5 14.dxc6 bxc4 15.Nb5 Qxc6 16.Nxd6 Bb7 17.Qc3 Rae8 18.Nxe8 Rxe8 19.Rhe1 Qb5 20.Nd2 Rc8 21.Kb1 Nf8 22.Ka1 Ng6 23.Rc1 Ba6 24.b3 cxb3 25.Qxb3 Ra8 26.Qxb5 Bxb5 27.Rc7 1-0 Kasparov,G-DEEP JUNIOR/New York USA 2003/ (27); 7...0-0 8.g5 Nh5 9.Bd2 f5 10.gxf6 Nhxf6 11.Ng5 Qe8 12.0-0-0 h6 13.h4-> Shirov,A-Thorhallson,T/Reykjavik/1992/]
8.Bd2 Qe7 9.Rg1 [ 9.a3?! leads to the famous game Gelfand-Kramnik: 9...Bxc3 10.Bxc3 b6 11.Bd3 Ba6 12.Qa4 dxc4 13.Qxa6 cxd3 14.Qxd3 0-0 15.g5 Nd5 16.Bd2 f5 17.0-0-0 c5 18.Kb1 b5 19.Qxb5 Rab8 20.Qa5 Rb3 21.Ka2 Rfb8 22.Rb1 e5 23.Rhc1 Qe6 24.Ka1 exd4 25.Rxc5 Nxc5 26.Qxc5 Nc3 27.Nxd4 Rxb2 28.Rxb2 Qa2+ 0-1 Gelfand,B-Kramnik,V/Berlin 1996/CBM 55 (28)]
9...Bxc3 [ 9...b6 is played more often.]
10.Bxc3 Ne4 [ 10...b6 was again an alternative, e.g. 11.Bd3 dxc4 12.Bxc4 Bb7 13.g5 Nd5+/= 0-1 Szeberenyi,A-Izsak,G/Budapest 1997/CBM 61 ext (63)]
11.0-0-0!?N Mig: 'A new move instead of the usual 11.Bd3.' [ 11.Bd3 Nxc3 12.Qxc3 dxc4 ( 12...0-0 13.0-0-0 dxc4 14.Bxc4 c5 ( 14...b5 15.Bd3 Bb7 16.Ne5 Nxe5 17.dxe5 Rfd8 18.Kb1 a6 19.Qc2 1-0 Malakhov,V-Potkin,V/Togliatti RUS 2003/The Week in Chess (39)) 15.g5 cxd4 16.Qxd4 a6 17.Kb1 b5 18.Be2 0-1 Milanovic,D-Djerfi,K/Belgrade 2003/CBM 96 ext (33)) 13.Bxc4 b6 14.0-0-0 0-0 15.Bd3 Bb7 16.Qc2 g6 17.Ne5 Nxe5 18.dxe5 c5 19.Be4 c4 20.Rd6 Rac8 1/2-1/2 Kobalija,M-Ramesh,R/Biel 2001/CBM 83 ext (20)]
11...Qf6 '!?' Mig. Mig: 'Now that we are out of X3D Fritz's opening library of recorded moves it is thinking, calculating, for itself. And right away we see a very "computer-like" move from the computer. It immediately plays to win a pawn by attacking the unprotected knight on f3.'
12.Be2 Mig: 'Kasparov protects his knight and offers the f2 pawn for capture.'
12...Nxf2?! Did Kasparov hope for this greedy pawn grab to happen? He gets now a murderous initiative based on his advantage in development, his mighty pair of bishops and the unsafe black king. A human would be shaking in his shoes with Black here. Mig: 'And X3D Fritz takes the pawn! This will give White a lot of pressure against the black position in compensation for the sacrificed pawn. It's ironic that we have the strongest chess computer of all time here and it is playing in the materialistic mode of the first chess programs. In X3D Fritz's opinion, it has enough defensive resources to rebuff Kasparov's initiative. This battle of material vs initiative is what chess is all about. Kasparov gives up a pawn for an attack, but if his attack doesn't succeed then X3D Fritz will have good chances to win with the extra material. Kasparov loves to have the initiative and such sacrifices are his stock and trade.' [ 12...Nb6!? ]
13.Rdf1 Mig: 'Attacking the black knight.'
13...Ne4 Mig: 'Retreating the knight. One of the drawbacks of X3D Fritz's pawn grab is that now the f-file is open for White's pieces. Right now Kasparov is threatening a discovered attack on the black queen. That means when he moves his knight, there will be a line of attack opened for his rook.'
14.Bb4! prevents the short castling and emphasizes Black's weak dark squares. Mig: 'Kasparov moves his bishop away so the knight can't capture it. He uses it to prevent the black king from castling by attacking the f8 square.' [ 14.Ne5 This is the discovered attack. Note that now Black's queen is under fire from the rook on f1. When the queen moves Kasparov would be able to capture the pawn on f7. But X3D Fritz saw well in advance that its queen would be able to counterattack effectively. It's hard to fool a computer looking at four million moves per second. 14...Qh4 15.Nxf7 0-0! Creating a double attack on the f7 knight. 16.Ne5 Rxf1+ 17.Rxf1 Nxe5 18.dxe5 Qxh2 Black maintains its extra pawn and has a clear advantage.]
14...c5 Mig: 'This move apparently came as a surprise to Kasparov, who now went into a deep think after playing all of his previous moves at tremendous speed. X3D Fritz gives back the pawn in order to block the white bishop's diagonal and open lines toward the White king.' [ 14...Ng5 15.Kb1 with powerful compensation.; Throwing 14...a5?! 15.Ba3 in helps only White, e.g. 15...c5 16.cxd5 exd5 17.dxc5 Qe7 18.c6 Ndc5 19.cxb7 Bxb7 20.Bb5+ Kd8 21.Nd4+/- ]
15.cxd5 Why did Kasparov think so long here? The alternative [ 15.dxc5 leads after 15...Qe7 16.cxd5 exd5 17.Nd4 to transposition to the game.]
15...exd5 [ 15...cxb4? 16.Qxe4+/- ]
16.dxc5 Qe7 Mig: 'Getting the queen away from the discovered attack on the f-file and also attacking the c5 pawn. Material is now equal, Kasparov has an edge in development and X3D Fritz has a very well-placed knight on e4.' [ Oliver Reeh suggested to solve the problems of Black's king radically with 16...0-0?! in his live comments, but after 17.c6 bxc6 18.Bxf8 Nxf8 White has 19.Bd3 with nice prospects.]
17.Nd4! a mighty square for White's knight, which is liked an octopus here. It can for instance jump to f5 to imcrease the pressure on the dark squares. Mig: 'A typically dynamic Kasparov move. He will play his knight to the aggressive f5 square. He ignores the threat to the c5 pawn since capturing it would cost Black a great deal of time.'
17...0-0! The human looking move, which was again suggested by Oliver Reeh was a surprise. Fritz evacuates his king at the cost of an exchange. Mig: 'Getting the king to safety, but allowing Kasparov to play a powerful sequence of moves here that will win a rook for a bishop and pawns. A rather surprising decision from a program that has already shown itself to be a bit of a materialist!' [ 17...b6? 18.Nf5+- ; We (IM Heiko Machelett, Prof.Dr.Althöfer and I) thought the the more "Fritz-like" 17...Ndxc5? 18.Bb5+ Kf8 Mig: 'Now the black king is stuck in the middle of the board.' 19.Rf4 b6 would follow. Black keeps his pawn and cements his knights. But his rook h8 is out of game at the moment. This is a typical shuffle chess problem by the way. So Heiko, who played an Advanced shuffle chess match against me in Jena last year, suggested options like h7-h6 followed by Kf8-g8-h7 rsp. g7-g6 and Kg7. But the whole line has a hole, which was seen by Fritz in time: 20.Bc6! Bb7? ( 20...Nd6! 21.Kb1+/- ) 21.Nf5+- Qc7 22.Bxb7 Qxb7 23.Rxe4 dxe4 24.Bxc5+ bxc5 25.Qxc5+ Kg8 ( 25...Ke8 26.Rd1 Rc8?! 27.Nxg7# ) 26.g5 h6 ( 26...Rc8? 27.Nh6+ gxh6 28.gxh6# ) 27.Ne7+ Kf8 28.Nd5+ Ke8 29.Nc7++- ; 17...Nexc5? 18.Nf5 Qf8 19.Rd1 g6 20.Rxd5 gxf5 21.Bb5 Nd3+ 22.Qxd3 Qxb4 23.Qxf5+- ]
18.Nf5 Mig: 'Attacking the queen.'
18...Qe5 19.c6 Mig: 'Kasparov goes for it. This pawn push is a discovered attack. The pawn attacks the knight and at the same time the diagonal for the b4 bishop is opened up to attack the rook on f8. He is going to win a rook for his bishop, a gain in material, but he usually likes to be the one giving up the material for the attack. Now X3D Fritz will have the initiative and more active pieces.'
19...bxc6 20.Bxf8 Kasparov invests again a lot of time. Later he will be a bit short of time. Mig: 'The logical continuation, although he could also have checked the black king and infiltrated with his knight with 20.Ne7+.' [ 20.Ne7+? Kh8 21.Nxc6 is strongly met by 21...Qg5! , e.g. 22.Bxf8 Qxe3+ 23.Kb1 Nd2+ 24.Ka1 Nxf1 25.Bxg7+ Kxg7 26.Rxf1 Bb7 ]
20...Kxf8 a tempo played by Fritz. It must have had enough time to calculate it in advance on Kasparov's time. Mig: 'Our Grandmaster commentators were expecting X3D Fritz to recapture with the knight instead of moving his king into the middle of the board. The machine prefers to keep its pieces more active and isn't worried about its king at all. A human would instictively worry about putting his king out into traffic. A computer just looks at a few hundred million positions, sees no danger, and plays what it thinks is best.' [ 20...Nxf8 21.Bd3+/= /+/- is very pleasant for White. ( 21.Qxc6? Rb8 gives Black strong attack. Mig: 'With great attacking chances for Black.') ]
21.Ng3! Mig: 'Kasparov wants to trade material. He has a material advantage and every exchange will bring him closer to realizing it.' [ 21.Bd3? Ndc5 22.Bxe4 dxe4 23.Nd4 Nd3+ 24.Kb1 Rb8 and Black has good counterplay.; Nach 21.Qxc6? Rb8 22.Qc2 Nb6 and Black can fish in muddy waters.]
21...Ndc5 22.Nxe4 Nxe4 23.Bd3 Mig: 'Threatening yet more trades.'
23...Be6 Mig: 'Finally developing this bishop and preparing to lodge it on the d5 square after Kasparov captures on e4. The bishop also protects the f7 square on the vulnerable f-file. Computers always defend tenaciously.'
24.Bxe4!? Kasparov clarifies the situation by exchanges. Not only against the computer a good strategy as White's dominance on the dark square is emphasized by this. [ 24.Rf4?! Nc3 25.Rg3 Nxa2+ 26.Kb1 d4 is unneccessary tactical.]
24...dxe4 Mig: 'Kasparov's mission to exchange pieces has been successful, but how to now convert his slight material advantage into a win?'
25.Rf4 [ 25.Kb1!? ]
25...Bd5 Mig: 'Protecting the attacked e4 pawn. Black has set up a solid defensive wall and it's up to Kasparov to find a way through.' [ 25...Bxa2!? 26.Rxe4 Qb5 27.Rd4 c5 came into consideration to give Black more attacking prospects.]
26.Qc5+ Mig: 'Activating the queen with check, forcing the black king back. This move also pins the bishop against the queen.' [ 26.Qc3 Many expected this move, offering to exchange the queens and driving the black queen from her excellent central post. X3D Fritz definitely wouldn't exchange queens because then Kasparov's material advantage would be close to crushing. X3D Fritz needs the powerful queen on the board to keep counterchances. 26...Qd6 ]
26...Kg8 the key of White's strategy in this position is the prevention of any counterplay by slow prophylactical improvement of all his men using his dominance on the dark squares. This is very strong especially against Fritz, who needs activity like a fish the water.
27.Rgf1 threatens Rxf7, which Fritz of course will never overlook. Mig: 'Threatening the brutally blunt capture Rxf7, taking advantage of the pin on the bishop. This move was criticized by several of the assembled Grandmasters as "too subtle." Black's reaction develops a piece and White's threat is easily parried. The more direct 27.Rd1 was more to the point.' [ 27.g5?! Qe6 28.a3 Qh3 and; 27.Rg2?! Qg5 give Black counterplay.; The prophylactical 27.h4!? Rb8 28.Rg2 came strongly into consideration. If g4-g5 is played later then the 3 white pawns make it very difficult to mobilze Black's kingside majority and may even be used to lauch an assault on the dark squares by h4-h5-h6 (White's queen threatens to land on g7 and back rank mates loom large).; 27.Rd1 Mig: The suggestion of GMs Lautier, Gulko, and Alburt at the match in New York. 27...Rb8 28.Rd4 ]
27...Rb8 Mig: 'Answering Kasparov's threat with an even stronger one. X3D Fritz threatens a lethal capture on b2.' [ 27...a5?? 28.Rxf7 Bxf7? ( 28...a4?? 29.Rf8+ Rxf8 30.Qxf8# ) 29.Qxe5+- ]
28.R1f2 Mig: 'Protecting b2 and so reviving the threat to capture on f7.' [ 28.Rxf7?? Qxb2+ 29.Kd1 Bxf7-+ ]
28...Qc7 Mig: 'Removing the pin on the bishop and so threatening to capture the unprotected a2 pawn.'
29.Rc2 Mig: 'Kasparov prefers to answer a threat with a counterthreat instead of playing defense. Now if Black plays ..Rb5 Kasparov exploits the new pin on the c-pawn and captures the rook with Qxb5.' [ 29.Kb1 Protecting the a2 pawn with the king.]
29...Qd7 [ 29...h6 is tactically playable as 30.Qxd5? can be met by 30...Qxf4 ; 29...Bxa2 Grabbing the pawn immediately was playable, but now White's rooks get a lot of play.; 29...Rb5?? 30.Qxb5! ]
30.h4!? Mig: 'Another aggressive surprise from Kasparov. Just when all the action was on the queenside and in the center, he threatens to open a new front by pushing his kingside pawns against the black king.' [ 30.b3?! is aimed against the Bd5, but can be answered by 30...Rb5 31.Qd4 Qe7 when the lever a7-a5-a4 is in the air.]
30...Qd8 threatens to take on h4 and on a2.
31.g5 Mig: 'This move made X3D Fritz very happy, at least according to its evaluation function. It now considers it safe to capture the hanging pawn on a2. Kasparov wants to play h5 without allowing Black to block his pawns with ..h6. But this plan is just to slow and now X3D Fritz grabs a pawn on a2.' [ 31.h5 This push instead of g5 wouldn't have given X3D Fritz time to capture on a2 because of the threat of h6. 31...Bxa2? ( 31...h6 ) 32.h6 ]
31...Bxa2 Mig: 'A surprise for Kasparov. Perhaps that pawn had sat there immune for so long that Kasparov started to believe it couldn't be captured! Not only does Black win a pawn but suddenly White's king is feeling a draft.' [ 31...Rb5 32.Qd4+/- ]
32.Rxe4? played after thinking for about 15 minutes. Did Kasparov want to force a draw now or did he miss Black's reply? Mig: 'Almost a draw offer since it is now very hard for White to find any move to avoid the repetition that does indeed end the game.' [ 32.Rd2! would have emphasized Black's wound again: the weak dark squares, e.g. Mig: 'This move was expected by most commentators. It pushes the black queen off the d-file and claims it for White. Then Kasparov could continue his kingside push.' 32...Qe8 ( 32...Bd5?! 33.Rxe4 a5 ( 33...Rb5? 34.Qxc6+- ) 34.Red4 f5 ( 34...Qe8? 35.e4+- ) 35.gxf6 Qxf6 36.Rf4 Qg6 37.Rdf2+/- ) 33.h5! a6 ( 33...Bd5?! 34.h6 g6 ( 34...Qf8 35.Qxa7+/- ) 35.Qxa7+/- ) 34.Rd6 ( 34.h6?! Bd5 35.Qd4 Qf8! ) 34...Bd5 35.Qa7 Qf8 36.Qc7 Rc8 37.Qd7+/- ; 32.Qxc6 ]
32...Qd3! forces the draw as White can't escape the coming checks Mig: 'Bringing the queen to a dominating position and creating threats around the white king.'
33.Rd4 Mig: 'Giving up another pawn in order to remove the worst of the black threats.' [ 33.Qxc6 Qf1+ 34.Kd2 Rd8+ 35.Rd4 Qf2+ 36.Kd3 Qf1+= ]
33...Qxe3+ Mig: 'X3D Fritz alarmed the commentators by spending eight minutes on this obvious and forced move. Seirawan, Ashley, and Hoffman wondered if there was a malfunction! Nothing of the sort. X3D Fritz had plenty of extra time, so it was in no hurry. It had started to see the repetition draw that now comes and when a decisive result comes into its analysis horizon the program gives itself more time.'
34.Rcd2 Mig: 'The other moves are suicidal. Kasparov has no choice but to accept the perpetual check draw if X3D Fritz wants it.' Mig: 'The only move.' [ 34.Rdd2?? Rxb2! Whoops, giving up the queen but getting checkmate in return! A fine illustration of the dangers around White's king. 35.Qxe3 ( 35.Rxb2 Qxc5+ ; 35.Kxb2 Qb3+ 36.Ka1 Qb1# ) 35...Rb1# Checkmate!; 34.Kd1?? Re8 ]
34...Qe1+ Mig: 'Black is in considerable danger as well. Not only does Kasparov have a material advantage, but the black king is not safe.' [ 34...Rf8?! 35.Qc3+/= ; 34...Re8 Black can keep the game going this way, but it was very risky and without any advantage. 35.Qc3 ; 34...Qe8? 35.Rd7 ]
35.Rd1 Mig: 'The only move. The open white king, hemmed in by the bishop on a2, is too vulnerable.' [ 35.Kc2?? Bb1+ 36.Kc3 Qc1+ 37.Rc2 Qxc2# ]
35...Qe3+ Mig: 'The first repetition of the position. If the same position is about to appear on the board for the third time, the player can claim a draw by repetition. We call theversion here a "perpetual check."' [ 35...Qe8?! helps only White, e.g. 36.Rb4 Ra8 37.Rb7+/= ]
36.R1d2 [ 36.Kc2?? Qb3+ 37.Kd2 Qxb2+ ; 36.R4d2?? Qxc5+ ]
36...Qg1+ Mig: 'This was the last fork in the road. X3D Fritz could have continued the game with ..Re8. The machine decides that there is no way to play for a win and forces the repetition draw.'
37.Rd1 The pressure on Kasparov has not become smaller after this draw. Will he be able to withstand it and show his powerful strength? Thursday we will already know more! Co-commentators IM Heiko Machelett and Prof.Dr.Althöfer. Mig: 'Now the draw is completely forced because the black queen has no alternative to checking on e3 again and creating a third repetition. Any other move loses immediately. White is threatening to win instantly with Rd8+. So going to g1 for check instead of back to e1 was just a show of computer humor, if you will! The result is the same: draw. A rich and exciting battle with chances on both sides and unexpected play from the beginning.' 1/2-1/2