Kramnik vs Deep Fritz – a mega media event

by ChessBase
12/2/2006 – Rumors of its demise have been greatly exaggerated – the "Man vs Machine" contest still draws the attention of a wide audience, world-wide. And in Germany, where it is all happening, it is simply a mega-event. The press and television coverage is unprecedented, with reports in all channels. We bring you links and a video report.

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The chess duel Man vs Machine, Vladimir Kramnik vs Deep Fritz is being staged from November 25 until December 5th. It is sponsored by the RAG AG, one of Europe's largest energy companies. The venue is the National Art Gallery in Bonn, Germany. Schedule:

Game 1: Saturday 25.11.2006 15:00 h
Game 2: Monday 27.11.2006 15:00 h
Game 3: Wednesday 29.11.2006 15:00 h
Game 4: Friday 01.12.2006 15:00 h
Game 5: Sunday 03.12.2006 15:00 h
Game 6: Tuesday 05.12.2006 15:00 h

There is full live coverage on the Playchess server, as well as on the official site and a number of partner sites.

Press stories in English

The English language broadsheets are picking up the subject, with more reports are appearing by the day. Already now, with just two-thirds of the match over, the news coverage seems to be overtaking the world championship in Elista. This is certainly the case for our own news page in the Alexa tracking system.

In Germany of course the coverage is much more intense. At the end of this report you will find a list of German articles that have appeared in newspapers and online. Here first are short excerpts from English language stories.

Hamilton Spectator: Computers have power but they can't dance – "Powered by the Intel Core Duo 5160 system, Deep Fritz scours the chess board at a speed of 8 million positions per second. Unfortunately for its German programmers, this barely begins to scratch the surface of a solution to the problem known as chess... The number of potential positions that could occur once a game has started is in the order of 10 to the power of 128, overwhelmingly larger than the number of atoms thought to be contained in the universe.With the help of algorithms, the latest generation of programs avoids a vast number of pointless calculations. As a result, Deep Fritz is now about the same playing strength as Kramnik and possibly stronger; but the most interesting question remaining is simply this: is the machine really playing chess?"

Herald Tribune: World chess champion Vladimir Kramnik defends tenaciously to draw computer Deep Fritz – "According to its operator Mathias Feist, Fritz's evaluation of its advantage [in game four] was as high as 0.8 of a pawn. While the computer may have had the advantage, it was the type of closed position where computers are at their weakest. Imprecise play allowed Kramnik to untangle his pieces and get them into the game and then to exchange off both pairs of rooks. Kramnik afterward admitted, 'the computer probably missed a win at some point. It's very close and it's hard to say without deep analysis.' In the endgame that followed, Fritz had no way for its king to get into Kramnik's position, and, lacking that, no winning chances, although Kramnik still had to be careful. Kramnik was able to build a fortress and had only to shuffle his king back and forth. But Fritz's algorithms, while still giving it the advantage, gave it no plan and it kept moving its bishop around while accomplishing nothing. After a few moves of this, Kramnik offered a draw, which Feist accepted."

Herald Tribune: Chess match pits world champion Kramnik against computer – "The ancients told legends of heroes who fought against the gods. The industrial revolution produced the legend of John Henry, the steel-driving man who defeated a steam drill only to die in the effort. It is only natural that the computer age pits man against machine in the intellectual pursuit of chess. Humanity's latest champion, Vladimir Kramnik of Russia, the undisputed world No. 1, faces off here against Deep Fritz, a commercially available program loaded onto a powerful personal computer, in a match for US$1 million (€780,000) that begins Friday."

Guardian: Barden on chess – "It was the worst-ever blunder by a world champion, a one-move checkmate. The results in Vladimir Kramnik's €500,000 Man v Machine series against the super-program, Deep Fritz, which led 2-1 at halfway, have been overshadowed by the traumatic end to game two. Grandmasters and other strong players use pattern recognition derived from thousands of previous games to spot opportunities and dangers. With a white knight at f6 or g5 rather than f8, the pattern is elementary. Two factors probably led to Kramnik's blind spot. First, the knight unusually reached f8 as part of a capturing sequence rather than by a simple threat, so Kramnik's mind could remain fixated on his own plans. Second, backward captures and threats are the hardest to see. Sam Reshevsky once went Qf7xg6 and announced mate to Vlad Savon's king at h6, only for his opponent to play Bb1xg6. Similarly, Deep Fritz's Nf8 controlled h7 from the rear to help spark the world champion's blackout. Kramnik will never live it down. It will be a defining moment of his career, just as many people remember the all-time No1, Garry Kasparov, mainly for his loss to IBM Deep Blue in 1997."

Spiegel Online: All or Nothing for Chess Master Kramnik – "Even though he hasn't yet beaten 'Deep Fritz' in the series, he has held his own. Indeed, in the one game he did lose, on Monday, he was dominating the computer before committing a costly blunder. Focused as he was on his own strategy, he somehow missed the dangerous trap the computer had prepared for him. His black king had nowhere to run when the white queen came calling. Indeed, the loss could very well have made history. Never before has a tournament involving a grand master seen a checkmate from a single move."

Spiegel Online: Kramnik and 'Deep Fritz' Vie for Chess Supremacy – "This is the first time in the history of man vs. machine matches that the machine entered the duel as the favorite. On SPIEGEL ONLINE International you can watch the series live – every match, every move and with audio commentary by Yasser Seirawan, a four-time US chess champion, a one-time world junior chess champion and author of numerous chess books. The matches will be played every other day with the first match already having been completed on Saturday. After Monday's match, the next will be on Wednesday, then Friday, Sunday, with the finale taking place on Tuesday, December 5. Every match begins at 3:00 p.m. CET -- or 9:00 a.m. on the East Coast. And every match will be right here on SPIEGEL ONLINE International."

Reports in German

The event is being staged in the National Art Gallery of the former capital of Germany, Bonn. For this reason the Man vs Machine match is a mega-event, and the press and television reports can be seen and read all over the country. Here is one major TV report on the national channel.

Video: ARD-Nachtstudio: Wladimir Kramnik gegen "Deep Fritz" (German)

Below are the press reports, mostly in broadsheets – and all in German. If you speak the language and have some time click through the articles. Some of them are filled with an astonishing amount of content.

Press reports


Reports about chess: tournaments, championships, portraits, interviews, World Championships, product launches and more.


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