Kramnik Squeezes the Machine to Win Game 2

10/6/2002 – The champion induced Fritz to make several mistakes in the early going and the program never recovered. Fritz fought back tenaciously, but Kramnik kept firm control of the position throughout and now leads the match 1.5-0.5. After the game Kramnik said that he had been suprised by the "inhuman" defence of the computer and almost resigned himself to a draw. More

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The Fritz team was more than a little embarrassed when their brainchild tossed the move 12…Bf8?? on the board, returning its bishop to its original square! 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.

It wasn't completely one-sided. Fritz fought back and shocked Kramnik with some typical computer tactics. In the press conference he admitted that he never imagined 27…Bc4+! and the tactics that followed. "Only a computer would find and play something like that," Kramnik said, "I was completely shocked."

He didn't lose his head, however, and after a long think he found his way through the complications. Kramnik kept firm control of the position and retained the structural and other positional advantages he earned after Fritz's poor opening play. His active king and rook dominated the board and Fritz's pieces were reduced to completely passive defense.

In the final position the king and pawn endgame is hopeless for black. It's not easy to figure out, however, and GM commentator Nigel Short was critical of the Fritz Team's decision to resign. "At least for the thousands of chess fans out there who will see this game and not understand why black resigned," he said. "There are several long variations for white to calculate, many choices to make, it's not that simple. Black should have played on for at least 10 more moves."

In game six Fritz will be back with the white pieces and the boys from ChessBase are eager to strike back. It seems unlikely that they will allow the Berlin Defense that Kramnik drew so easily with in game one.

You can replay the annotated game here.

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