Amateur beats Rybka blindfold – while hell freezes over

4/29/2011 – Chinese media and other sources tell us that Ukrainian chess amateur Andrew Slyusarchuk beat Rybka 4.0 in a two-game blindfold match after reading three thousand books on the subject. The reports also says the 39-year-old doctor can recite 20,000 books by heart and has memorized 30 million digits of Pi. There are lots of video demonstrations, but as Robert Ripley used to say...

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Believe it or not

Not, of course. Definitely not. But we shudder to think how many other news outlets will pick up the story, which we give you verbatim and unedited below:

Ukrainian Andrew Slyusarchuk sensationally won the match against the smartest and the strongest chess computer program in the world, "Rybka-4", the local media reported Thursday. He spent eight months to understand the principles of the program. Slyusarchuk had read about three thousand books about chess. Skeptics have not believed that Andrew Slyusarchuk will be able to cope with the program. Nobody could do it before.

The first batch Slyusarchuk played blindfold with the white chess. He has not seen a chessboard, but just have memorize moves. For the second leg he used black chess. In general, the player has spent about two hours for a duel with the computer. Seven years ago Russian grandmaster Garry Kasparov had a fight with the computer. The man lost the game. After his defeat chess players have not gambled with the machines.

Andrew Slyusarchuk does not apply for the title of grandmaster. He just wanted to show the audience that the potential of the human's brain is not fully used. Slyusarchuk is an amateur in chess playing – he is a neurosurgeon. 39-year-old MD specializes in the brain studying as well as improving memory technologies development. He knows by heart 20,000 books and 30 million digits of the pi number.

Well, let's see. If Doctor Slyusarchuk (Sly? USA? Is there some kind of message in the name?) would memorize one book per day it would take him 50 years to memorize 20,000. And if he recited digits of Pi at one digit per second, day and night, 24-hours a day without a break, it would take him about one year to get to the 30 millionth digit. Still, both these claims pale in comparison to the idea of a chess amateur reading three thousand books and then beating Rybka blindfold. Unless...

Of course Andrew Slyusarchuk could have memorised two losses by Rybka in computer vs computer encounters, or in matches it plays against itself, and set Rybka up to repeat the games against him. Or some such trick. There were forum and blog members in the past who would post articles with their own brilliant wins against the world's strongest programs. When we invited them to do so in our presence there was always some very pressing reason why this was not possible. Andy, we offer you piece odds against Fritz 4 in our office, with full view of the board.


The real thing: Nigel Short playing blindfold against the chess computer Sargon,
which the 15-year-old IM smashed back in 1980. You will find the game here.

Video reports


This one with Andrew Slyusarchuk, who is now called "Professor", is fully captioned
in English and contains quite a bit of chess content.


And here's another video of a Slyusarchuk show with English captions


More from Andrew Slyusarchuk, with him learning the pages of a chess by just
glancing at them (amongst other feats of remarkable mathematical genius).


And here's a Lviv TV channel ZIK report that was uploaded after our story was published.
In it Vassily Ivanchuk is interviewd over the chess feats of Andrew Slyusarchuk, who refuses
to play a game against Ivanchuk, saying it was like "child's play" for him to play humans.

At the end of the second video you will find links to further material. And if you really want to get hooked on Andy you can follow the links on the right of this YouTube page and on this Russian video page. And if you decide to delve deeper into the world of the amazing and unknown then we can recommend this illustrious newspaper (scroll down, there are hundreds of stories to enjoy).


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