ChessBase Magzine 91 now shipping

12/16/2002 – It is a monumental CD with 1527 games, 484 with expert annotations, special sections on openings theory, strategy, tactics, endgame and telechess. It also contains part one of a multimedia report on Kramnik vs Deep Fritz in Bahrain, with over an hour of video footage. All of this for just € 19.95 or just over $17. Find out all about the contents of CBM 91. And if you really want to know what you are missing take a look at the CBM 91 multimedia report.

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Man vs Machine in Bahrain - Part 1

A multimedia report on Kramnik vs Deep Fritz
By Frederic Friedel

Please note that the videos listed below are not included as links on this page.
They total over 600 MB and are only available on the ChessBase Magazine CD.

If you have not been on the proverbial holiday on one of Jupiter's outer moons, you will know what transpired in October in the Gulf Kingdom of Bahrain. About one billion people were confronted by it through television, newspapers and the Internet. The reigning classical chess world champion Vladimir Kramnik was challenged by the strongest chess program currently known to man, Deep Fritz. They played eight games, Fritz installed on an eight-processor machine, with each Pentium 3 processor running at 900 MHz. This led to an average speed of around three million positions per second.

The match started with a ferocious 3-1 lead for Kramnik, who won games two and three. It looked like it was going to develop into an annihilation of the machine by the human being. But then the tables turned, with Fritz winning games five and six. All other games were drawn and the final score was 4-4, something that very few experts had anticipated. Kramnik got $800,000, of which $600,000 were the guaranteed "appearance fee"; Fritz took home $200,000, which will be put into a trust fund for youth chess.

The games were covered live on a special Flash client developed by associates of ChessBase especially for the event. There were a number of coverage partners, like Germany's largest news magazine Der Spiegel, Europe's largest computer magazine Heise/c't and Spain's largest newspaper El Pais. The live commentary from Bahrain was fed in the client by Mig Greengard (English), Frederic Friedel (German) and Leontxo Garcia (Spanish).

If you want to read up on the match you will find a list of over 100 articles on the following page:

This report is divided into two sections. In this first part we look at the events leading up to the match in Bahrain and including the first four games there. In part two, which is scheduled for the next issue of ChessBase Magazine Extra 91 we will bring you videos and interviews of the second half of the match.

Interview with Der Spiegel

Our multimedia report begins less than three weeks before the start of the event. We accompanied two reporters of Der Spiegel to a secret location to interview Vladimir Kramnik. In our web site report (at we described the trip as follows:

"We were put into a car, with wads of cotton wool taped over our eyes. We were driven for hours through the forest countryside of an unnamed country and arrived at an undisclosed place. But in the end we got to see the reclusive world champion. He was not in a cave but in a nice hotel, posing for photographers, would you believe."

Kramnik's training camp

Photographing the champ

Okay, maybe we got carried away with some of the details. The trip was long and tedious, the location of the hotel remote. But in the end we were able to do a very nice interview that appeared in three pages of Der Spiegel. The reporters were Dr Erich Follath, who is a senior correspondent on Middle East politics, and Maik Grossekathöfer, who is part of the sports department. I filmed most of it and give you excerpts here. In all the sequences you can see the photographer circling Kramnik and shooting at will.

Video Spiegel01 (5 min 57 sec)
Vladimir compares his upcoming match with Kasparov vs Deep Blue in 1997. He talks about the basic requirements and preparation strategy for his match against the computer.

Video Spiegel02 (3 min 34 sec)
Vladimir speaks about his attitude to chess and his feelings towards his (human) colleagues. It is very interesting to hear about the main problem of top chess players: to switch off their brains. Unlike other sports people they carry all their training equipment around with them, all of the time. While walking or swimming it is easy to analyse positions in their heads, so they have to resort to highly reactive sports like tennis to force their minds off the subject of chess.

Video Spiegel03 (2 min 57 sec)
Why are chess matches between humans and computers so fascinating for the general public? Vladimir volunteers an explanation and also talks about the strange and weird world of thinking machines.

Video Spiegel04 (1 min 31 sec)
Erich Follath is not just a political journalist, he is also a strong chess player. In the end he took on the world champion in a blitz game, and this was not trivially over in a few moves. In fact the two spent quite a while analysing the game after it was over.

Interview with Vladimir Kramnik (Hamburg)

The action in Bahrain

The first game ended in a draw, after Kramnik had used the Berlin Defence to thwart the computer's Ruy Lopez. Just as in Kasparov-Kramnik, London 2000, White got an overwhelming position and in fact a lot of people thought the computer was going to draw first blood. One of them was visiting GM Nigel Short, who was doing commentary for the organisers in Bahrain

Video Nigel01
(3 min 13 sec)
Thirteen moves into the game Nigel is already pretty sure that "the beast" is going to win. Mig Greengard and IM Malcolm Pein think that Kramnik is too good at doing nothing and will be able to hold the machine to a draw. The game indeed ended in a draw, with Kramnik finding a very nice fortress in the end to prevent the white forces from penetrating his position.

Game 1: Deep Fritz - Kramnik,V ½-½

Video G1-press
(3 min 57 sec)

In the press conference Vladimir Kramnik is surprised to learn that the Fritz operator Mathias Feist was not allowed to offer a draw directly. He also answers an interesting question by Raymond Keene who quotes Garry Kasparov comparing him to the Fritz program.

Video Nigel02 (10 min 37 sec)

On the free day after game one the local Internet slaves, Mig Greengard and myself, were visited by Nigel Short who gave us his views on what had transpired and his assessment of the general playing strength of Fritz: "I have a lot of respect for my little German friend. He works hard, he's a good lad, and he's a lot cheaper than most seconds." On game one he says: "Maybe it played even better than Kasparov in some ways, it made more of an effort." Nigel and Mig debate whether Fritz should try to play the Berlin again against Kramnik in this match.

The second game was a convincing win by Kramnik, after he had taken Fritz out of book with 9.Kf1!? and the program tossed the move 12…Bf8? on the board, returning its bishop to its original square! In his daily report Mig wrote: "This bizarre move was something even the lowliest human player would never consider. It made perfect sense to Fritz, as it thought that the best move for Kramnik was to retreat his knight, in which case Fritz would have repeated its move too, settling for a draw. Of course Kramnik had no intention of repeating and Fritz's move was exposed for the terrible blunder it was."

However the win was not completely straightforward. On move 27 Fritz played an incredible tactical shot (27...Bc4+ followed by 28...Nd3+) which Kramnik had overlooked. The world champion was horrified, initially thinking he had lost the game. But it turned out that he could still retain some of his advantage, and he used it to decide the game in his favour.

Game 2: Kramnik,V - Deep Fritz 1-0

After each of the games there was a postgame discussion between Kramnik and GM Daniel King for Bahraini and International television. We eavesdrop on their conversation after game two.

Video G2-postgame
(2 min 47 sec)

Kramnik first shows Danny King the win that he had seen in the final position (in which Fritz had resigned). Danny King presses Kramnik on whether he had had the position before 12...Bf8 on the board with Fritz before the match. Vladimir denies this. He goes on to speak about the Fritz moves 26...Nc5, 27...Bc4, etc. "I would say that no human being would be able to see such strange tactics".

Video G2-press (3 min 57 sec)
In the press conference after the game Vladimir Kramnik gives us his assessment of the performance of his computer opponent. He speaks again about the tactics Fritz had unleashed on move 27 and his feelings at that moment. Nigel Short takes Fritz author Frans Morsch to task for having resigned the game too early. Nigel feels that the contestants owed it to the audience to show them why White was winning. Malcolm Pein asks Kramnik to dictate the main winning line, which Vladimir dutifully does.

We apologise for the poor sound quality at these press conferences. The noise in the background is from ventilators, air conditioning, cameras and traffic on the street.

Video Nigel03
(1 min 47 sec)
Nigel Short is not a man to be mollified by simple explanations as given in the press conference. On the day after the match we catch him berating the Fritz team once again for resigning game two in a position in which the win for White was not obvious. "If your average club player sits down for a couple of hours he can work out the win - or maybe not. It costs nothing to play on a few more moves. I think you have certain obligations to the wider world."

The games were played in a closed studio with no public present. At the start of each game a few journalists had exactly 120 seconds to get some pictures. After that nobody was allowed into the room. Of course the action was displayed on closed circuit monitor screens and recorded for television broadcast all over the world.

(5 min 08 sec)
We see the beginning of game three, with the arbiter Enrique Irazoqui starting the clocks. After the game, which Kramnik won, there is a discussion for the TV cameras with GM Daniel King. Then comes the press conference in which Kramnik is asked about the level of play and whether he can keep it up. He gives us some insight into his daily routine - "mainly working, working, working."

Game 3: Deep Fritz - Kramnik,V 0-1

Game 4: Kramnik,V - Deep Fritz ½-½

Game four was a relatively uneventful draw, and the score was an exhilarating 3-1 for Vladimir Kramnik. The world champion took time out to meet with the Bahraini chess youth.

Video Kids1
(5 min 08 sec)
GM Julian Hodgson, who was in Bahrain as a commentator, starts things off with a simultaneous exhibition. Afterwards the kids visit the abode of the Internet slaves. Mig shows them some Photoshop magic, and some of the boys play a few games on the Fritz server. Then Kramnik turns up and signs brochures and T-shirts. He also gives a very nice press conference for the chess kids.

All the games from the event

Mig's corner

Mig Greengard at work, watched by the Russian Ambassador Valery Vlassov

One person who had followed the match very closely was my colleague Mig Greengard, who looked after the official Brains in Bahrain web site and wrote the daily reports (which were cheerfully copied by Reuters and others). After the match was over I cornered Mig, who is a 2300 player, and asked him for his summary impressions of the match. You can learn a lot about computer chess by listening to his comments.

Video Mig01 (4 min 39 sec)
Mig talks mainly about game one and the Berlin. Remember this man spent many weeks in London at the end of 2000 watching Garry Kasparov unsuccessfully attack Kramnik's Berlin Defence. On game two Mig is convinced that Kramnik had seen Fritz's 12…Bf8 retreat in his home preparation.

Video Mig02
(4 min 18 sec)

Mig talks about game three and explains how Kramnik was probably well prepared for the Scotch. He explains why computers have problems with certain pawn moves which players of Kramnik's calibre can cash in on. Mig also describes how the world champion "skated through" game four. He summarises the strategy Kramnik had so successfully employed: get the queens off the board because they represent immense tactical complications.

Interview with Vladimir Kramnik

In closing we have one more little jewel for you. Immediately after the end of the match Mig Greengard visited Vladimir Kramnik in his Royal Suite at the Gulf Hotel. In a private, intimate atmosphere the two spoke about what had transpired in the past three weeks in Bahrain, but also about life in general, like what it feels like for a kid from Tuapse, Russia, to find himself a dollar millionaire. For this interview, which lasts almost three quarters of an hour, we have removed the video, which would have eaten up most of the storage space on the ChessBase Magazine CD. Instead Mig has inserted still digital photos which he took during the three weeks of the match.

Mig's interview is in a separate file on the root directory of the ChessBase Magazine CD. It is called Kramnik-Interview.avi and can be started with a double click. But you can also try loading it directly from ChessBase or Fritz by clicking the following link:


This ends our coverage of the first half of the match Man vs Machine, Brains in Bahrain. The second part is scheduled to follow in ChessBase Magazine Extra 91. It contains some very interesting interviews and will be announced on our web site at

ChessBase Magazine 91 costs € 19.95 (around US$19).
You can order it in the ChessBase Shop.

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