Did Deep Fritz use Shakespeare to heckle the World Champion?

by ChessBase
10/16/2002 – It is an interesting theory: the Fritz team installed the latest chatter files during the Man vs Machine event in Bahrain, causing the machine to talk to the world champion in authentic Shakespearean verse during the game. The historical chatter drove Kramnik to distraction and prompted his ill-fated Morphy-esque knight sacrifice. That, in any case, ist how Schakespearean scholar and chess addict Michael Fischer tells it in his special report.

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Kramnik versus Deep Fritz, match game 6

While the reports have not been confirmed, there has been some talk of the Fritz team having employed a clever diversionary tactic in Game Six to unsettle the World Champion, Vladimir Kramnik. Before the game, programmer Frans Morsch and the notorious – some might say nefarious – Fred Friedel apparently tinkered with the Deep Fritz program, installing the Shakespearean Chatter Files slated to appear with a future release of Fritz. Morsch thought it would give the computer better odds. Fred thought it would be funny to see Kramnik turn red and talk to himself.

The conspirators rigged up several speakers around Kramnik’s chair and set them at volumes low enough that only Kramnik might hear the computer’s chatter. That the computer was talking to him doubtless distracted Kramnik; that Fritz was speaking entirely in Shakespearean verse surely drove Kramnik mad, prompting the questionable, Morphy-esque Knight sacrifice at f7.

Our reports go on to say that a Bahraini match official managed to extract a full transcript from the Deep Fritz computer after the game. This transcript he then e-mailed to the chatter-file designer, S. Michael Fisher, in the USA. In a fit of good conscience, this same Mr. Fisher (no relation of Bobby Fischer) then decided to make public the entire sordid affair.

What follows is a copy of that transcript.

Kramnik, Vladimir - Deep Fritz

Brains in Bahrain Match, Game Six 15.10.2002

Fritz: “Now is it time to arm: come, shall we about it?”

The World Champion blinks at this and looks about him. Convinced he is hearing things, he plays the first move.

1.d4 Nf6

Fritz: “The game’s afoot.”

Kramnik looks under the table. Not finding anyone there, he stares a while at Mathias Feist, the technician across the table, then continues with the game.

2.c4 e6

Fritz: “In our last conflict four of his five wits went halting off, and now is the whole man governed with one: so that if he have wit enough to keep himself warm, let him bear it for a difference between himself and his horse; for it is all the wealth that he hath left, to be known a reasonable creature.”

At this, Kramnik realizes what’s going on, but the memory of his humiliating blunder in Game Five must be preventing him from making the infraction known to the arbiter, Enrique Irazoqui. Fritz technician Mathias Feist is frowning uncomfortably. Kramnik frowns too, but in anger. He proceeds to pound out the next few moves.

3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Ba6 5.b3 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Be7

Fritz: “Better do so than tarry and be hang'd.”

7.Bg2 c6 8.Bc3 d5 9.Ne5

Fritz: “What sneaking fellow comes yonder?”

9…Nfd7 10.Nxd7

“Stain to thy countrymen, thou hear'st thy doom!
Be packing, therefore, thou that wast a knight:
Henceforth we banish thee, on pain of death.”


Kramnik itches his ear and gives his bodyguard a sidelong look.

11.Nd2 0–0 12.0–0 Rc8 13.a4

“Why I will fight with him upon this theme
Until my eyelids will no longer wag.”

Fritz had apparently expected 13.e4. After this the position becomes equal.


“Is this the scourge of France?
Is this the Kramnik, so much fear'd abroad
That with his name the mothers still their babes?
I see report is fabulous and false:
I thought I should have seen some Hercules,
A second Hector, for his grim aspect,
And large proportion of his strong-knit limbs.
Alas, this is a child, a silly dwarf!
It cannot be this weak and writhled shrimp
Should strike such terror to his enemies.”

Kramnik, normally not one to be drawn out by such taunts, proceeds to go into a long think. After a few minutes of this, Fritz disrupts him.

Fritz: “Why, sir, is this such a piece of study?”

At last Kramnik seems to have appropriately assessed the pawn tension in the center and has decided upon his plan.


Fritz, however, is not to be unsettled with a few fresh complications. Its opening book is more than adequate at this point.

“And now I will unclasp a secret book,
And to your quick-conceiving discontents
I'll read you matter deep and dangerous,
As full of peril and adventurous spirit
As to o'er-walk a current roaring loud
On the unsteadfast footing of a spear.”

14…c5 15.exd5 cxd4 16.Bb4

Fritz: “What, the sword and the word! do you study them both, master parson?”


“Hang out our banners on the outward walls;
The cry is still 'They come:' our castle's strength
Will laugh a siege to scorn: here let them lie
Till famine and the ague eat them up.”

At this point, Kramnik, while reluctant of making an international scene, particularly after having permitted the chatter to run on this long, wishes the computer would shut up and whispers to the Fritz operator to turn off the bloody chatter feature.

Feist attempts to do so, but Fritz won’t have it. “I prithee, give no limits to my tongue: I am a king, and privileged to speak.”

Kramnik frowns all the more now and goes into a much longer think. Fritz hums a while, whistles the theme from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and again interrupts.

Fritz: “How long shall I be patient?”

Upon which Kramnik rises from the board and, escorted by his bodyguard, retreats to the restroom for a respite from Fritz’s chatter. While he’s away, Fritz whispers to the room:

“Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world: now could I drink hot blood,
And do such bitter business as the day
Would quake to look on.”

Eventually Kramnik returns to the board. After 41 minutes of thought, he plays the first, seemingly innocuous move of an attack he had been brewing up in his head all this while.


Fritz is clearly unimpressed. “A very good piece of work, I assure you, and a merry.”

17…exd5 18.Nd6

“Stand back, Lord Kramnik, stand back, I say;
By heaven, I think my sword's as sharp as yours:
I would not have you, lord, forget yourself,
Nor tempt the danger of my true defence;
Lest I, by marking of your rage, forget
Your worth, your greatness and nobility.”

“If thou but frown on me, or stir thy foot,
Or teach thy hasty spleen to do me shame,
I'll strike thee dead. Put up thy sword betime;
Or I'll so maul you and your toasting-iron,
That you shall think the devil is come from hell.”


Fritz: “You are a villain; I jest not: I will make it good how you dare, with what you dare, and when you dare. Do me right, or I will protest your cowardice.”

But Kramnik is set on attacking the King and won’t be diverted. He plays the move that resounds around the world, eliciting across the ChessBase chat room the sort of din one might expect had Russia just then been reported to have stormed the city of Toronto in Canada.


Fritz: “Beshrew me, the knight's in admirable fooling.”

Deep Fritz contemplates the sacrifice for all of a few seconds before turning up an evaluation of better than –1.63 to Black’s advantage.

Fritz: “These are old fond paradoxes to make fools laugh i' the alehouse.”


Fritz: “Hark, the game is roused!”

Kramnik slams out the obvious continuation.


“The sea enraged is not half so deaf,
Lions more confident, mountains and rocks
More free from motion, no, not Death himself
In moral fury half so peremptory,
As we to keep this city.”


Fritz: “Nothing will come of nothing: speak again.”

21.Qg4+ 21…Bg5

Fritz: “I say, there is no darkness but ignorance; in which thou art more puzzled than the Egyptians in their fog.”

Once again, Kramnik stares at the board for some time.

“A fearful eye thou hast: where is that blood
That I have seen inhabit in those cheeks?
So foul a sky clears not without a storm:
Pour down thy weather.”


Fritz: “Stand fast, and wear a castle on thy head!”

22…Rxe4 23.Qxe4+

Fritz: “Fie on her! see, how beastly she doth court him!”

23…Kh6 24.h4 Bf6 25.Bd2+

Fritz: “By gar, it is a shallenge: I will cut his troat in dee park; and I will teach a scurvy jack-a-nape priest to meddle or make. You may be gone; it is not good you tarry here. By gar, I will cut all his two stones; by gar, he shall not have a stone to throw at his dog.”


Here Kramnik begins talking to himself in Russian.

Fritz: “Why, uncle, what's the matter?”

26.hxg5+ Bxg5

[In the commentators’ room, GM Julian Hodgson claims to have discovered (with the aid of Fritz, likely) a possible draw for Kramnik, beginning with 27.Qe6+ but requiring that White find about seven difficult only-moves in the time crunch. Fritz, however, has unearthed the wonderful, even miraculous resource 27.Qe6+ Nf6 28.f4 Bh4!! Kramnik had missed this in his calculations. It is, in fact, the only saving move … and a winning move at that, since 29.Qh3 c3 30.Qxh4+ Nh5 and 29.gxh4? Qg8+! put Black on top. ]

Kramnik is thinking, thinking, thinking. The position isn’t looking as good as he had hoped now that he’s spotted 28…Bh4!! He chews on his fingernails. If only his King were on g2!

“Death, having prey'd upon the outward parts,
Leaves them invisible, and his siege is now
Against the mind, the which he pricks and wounds
With many legions of strange fantasies.”

Kramnik whispers something more in Russian. Is it a draw offer? If it is, Fritz won’t have it.

Fritz: “Before we will lay down our just-borne arms,
We'll put thee down, 'gainst whom these arms we bear,
Or add a royal number to the dead,
Gracing the scroll that tells of this war's loss
With slaughter coupled to the name of kings.”

Kramnik decides against the check at e6 and takes a different course.


Fritz: “'Tis nothing but conceit, my gracious lady.”

27...Kg6 28.Qe4+

Fritz: “Nothing will come of nothing: speak again.”


“O, 'twas a din to fright a monster's ear,
To make an earthquake! sure, it was the roar
Of a whole herd of lions.”


Fritz: “Shall I lose my parson, my priest, my Sir Hugh?”


Fritz: “But one fiend at a time, I'll fight their legions o'er.”


Kramnik has nine minutes left on his clock.

Fritz: “By my troth, I take my young lord to be a very melancholy man.”


Fritz: “Rogue, thou hast lived too long.”


“Think you a little din can daunt mine ears?
Have I not in my time heard lions roar?
Have I not heard the sea puff'd up with winds
Rage like an angry boar chafed with sweat?
Have I not heard great ordnance in the field,
And heaven's artillery thunder in the skies?
Have I not in a pitched battle heard
Loud 'larums, neighing steeds, and trumpets' clang?
And do you tell me of a woman's tongue,
That gives not half so great a blow to hear
As will a chestnut in a farmer's fire?
Tush, tush! fear boys with bugs.”


Fritz: “Now you see, sir, how your fooling grows old, and people dislike it.”


Fritz had seen within a millisecond that 32.Rab1 was the better move.

Fritz: “Beshrew my heart, but I pity the man.”


Fritz: “Avaunt, thou hateful villain, get thee gone! Or away with her to execution!”

33.Qxd5 Nxd5

“Take her away; for she hath lived too long,
To fill the world with vicious qualities.”

Kramnik has to realize at this point that he’s facing a lost endgame. There’s the vague and dreamy hope that maybe Fritz will misplay it somehow ... perhaps leave itself open to a perpetual check ... perhaps find itself forced to give up material in staving off a continued attack …


“Since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief …”


A pause on all sides. A hushed silence. Then …

Fritz: “Do ye yield, sir? or shall I sweat for you? if I do sweat, they are the drops of thy lovers, and they weep for thy death: therefore rouse up fear and trembling, and do observance to my mercy.”

And since 35.Rxa6 sees 35…b2!, Kramnik resigns. He leaves the board.

To no one in particular, Fritz announces through the little speakers:
“Here once again we sit, once again crown'd,
And looked upon, I hope, with cheerful eyes.”

“We have had pastimes here and pleasant game.”

And that’s what really happened. We thought the world should know.

S. Michael Fisher

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