Michael Adams mauled by a machine

by ChessBase
6/24/2005 – Currently the chess machine Hydra, consisting of 32 processors enhanced by special FPGA chess hardware and running at 200 million moves per second, is giving Britain's top GM Michael Adams a rough time. After half of their six-game match the score is 2.5:0.5 for the machine, which is located in Abu Dhabi. What has the future in store?

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The match is taking place at the Wembley Centre in London from 21-27 June (the exact schedule is given at the bottom of the page). The purse is $150,000, paid out on a per-game basis: the winner of each game gets $25,000, in case of a draw both opponents get $10,000 each, and whenever Adams loses a game he gets nothing.

The venue of the match in the Wembley Centre, London

The match has started very badly for the British GM. Adams lost the first game, a Petroff, which Hydra advisor GM Christopher Lutz had prepared well for the computer. The novelty came from Hydra at move 14, which produced an advantageous position and a win in 33 moves. It was the kind of open game and positions in which computers revel, and humans will always falter due to their natural propensity to commit minor inaccuracies.

GM in trouble: Michael Adams facing the Hydra machine in London

In the second game, a Sicilian Scheveningen, Adams got into trouble on the white side, and for a while it looked as thought a 0:2 match score was in the making. But then "Tricky Mickey", as he is known to his colleagues, played a clever exchange sacrifice (move 52) to reach a position in which Hydra thought it was winning but which in reality was blocked in a way that Black cannot possibly make any progress.

Game two under way

Game three was a depressingly short affair, with Adams coming out of the black side of a closed Ruy Lopez with what in human chess would be a playable position. But after a few small mistakes he was cut down by the monster machine with one ruthless thrust.

HYDRA - Adams,Mi (2737) [C91]
Man-Machine London ENG (3), 23.06.2005
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.d4 Bg4 10.d5 Na5 11.Bc2 c6 12.h3 Bc8 13.dxc6 Qc7 14.Nbd2 Qxc6 15.Nf1 Be6 16.Ng5 Bd8 17.Ne3 Bd7 18.a4 h6 19.Nf3 Rc8 20.axb5 axb5 21.Nh4 Nc4 22.Nxc4 bxc4 23.Ba4 Qc7 24.Bxd7 Qxd7 25.Nf5 d5 26.Ra6 Qb7 27.Rd6.

Tempting the opponent to go astray? Adams did, and was immediately punished: 27...Be7 28.Bxh6! and 1-0 because of 28...gxh6 29.Qf3 with terrible things to follow. One wonders if the human player is tiring – which would be understandable after the previous day's marathon; or if he is being mesmerized by the sheer brute calculating power of the Hydra machine.

So the score at half-time is a depressing 0.5:2.5 for Adams, who, if we have got our math right, has so far earned $10,000 in the first three games.

The Future

And what about the perspective for the future? GM John Nunn summarised it in a terse email (we give you its entire content):

2005: Leading GM loses to Hydra
2007: Leading GM loses to his Pocket PC
2009: Leading GM loses to his mobile phone, which plays a rude ringtone every time he makes a mistake.
2011: Leading GM loses to his son's LEGO toy.


Game 1 Tues. 21 June 2005, 3 PM Hydra-Adams
Game 2 Wed. 22 June 2005, 3 PM Adams-Hydra
Game 3 Thurs. 23 June 2005, 3 PM Hydra-Adams
Game 4 Sat. 25 June 2005, 3 PM Adams-Hydra
Game 5 Sun. 26 June 2005, 3 PM Hydra-Adams
Game 6 Mon. 27 June 2005, 3 PM Adams-Hydra

The games will be covered live on Playchess.com in a special broadcast room:


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