Slyusarchuk revisited – the annotated match against Rybka

by ChessBase
5/3/2011 – The Ukrainian chess amateur Andriy Slyusarchuk, who recently beat Rybka 4.0 blindfold, is contributing to our understanding of the human mind. Really. He is showing us vividly just how gullible people are, how absurd a claim can be and still be accepted by the media. Chess Today sent us an article on this illusionist genius, with new video links and annotated Rybka games.

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Slyusarchuk: the match against Rybka

You have already been served two reports on Andriy Slyusarchuk, the Ukrainian chess amateur equipped with an immensely advanced brain, super-natural powers – or just an illusionist using some clever mentalist tricks. Something on the lines of Derren Brown, whose feats on the stage and in TV appear to be the result of extaordinary brain power or psychic abilities, but who admits that he is simply using clever ruses. Slyusarchuk, on the other hand, claims what he is doing is the real thing and is trying to get money for a "Brain Institute" which he would create and lead.

The international media quickly picked up the story, and there were many films on YouTube that documented the brainman's stunts. Our readers reacted vigorously, ranging from complaints – "Since when are you paying attention to worthless news items like this?" and "I want five minutes of my life back," to a number of letters seriously discussing the mysterious powers of the human mind.

Which brings us to the justification for our series of articles. We belive that Slyusarchuk is doing some tremendously important work and contributing to our understanding of the human mind. Really. He is showing us vividly just how gullible people are, how absurd a claim can be and still be accepted by the general public and the media. Andriy is demonstrating how far you can push things and still be taken seriously.

After our first report we received additional and very informative (not to mention entertaining) material from GM Georgy Timoshenko, who had actually took part in a session with the mentalist in a TV studio. Today we received an article by GM Mikhail Golubev, himself from Ukraine. It appeared as a full issue of Chess Today, an Internet-based chess newspaper that we find daily in our email in-box.

Hra Stolittia Event in Kiev: When The Absurd Triumphs

by GM Mikhail Golubev

In the last few days instead of looking at the usual ongoing chess competitions I was mainly collecting information about the Hra Stolittia ("The game of century") event, which took place in the Ukrainian capital Kiev on 27 April 2011. I was not present there, alas, as there was no announcement with full details within my reach.

The Ukrainian professor Andriy Slyusarchuk played, blindfolded, against Rybka and scored 1½-½. ChessBase provided details, referring to Chinese and Vietnamese sources.

GM Mikhail Golubev of Ukraine, who has analysed the Slyusarchuk-Rybka games

I think that it makes sense to provide some information here from the Ukrainian perspective. First of all I must admit that the ChessBase proposal to offer Slyusarchuk piece odds in a game versus Fritz 4 in the ChessBase office was liked in the Ukrainian and Russian chess circles!

The match is discussed by the Ukrainian and Russian players in forums at,,,, etc. and there is a general view, especially among professionals (I can name GMs Shirov, Khalifman, Shipov for example) that Slyusarchuk's score was a result of ... mystification, to put it mildly.

But a problem is that the event had such wide coverage in the Ukrainian TV and other media (because of the significant sponsorship of a few thousand US Dollars reportedly, and governmental support), which perhaps exceeded the level of the coverage of the Ukrainian 2010 Chess Olympiad victory, that I suspect that the majority of my compatriots are sure now that a real genius is living amongst us. All the most important of the country's TV channels reported from the match, with only a little scepticism in some of these reports, while triumphalism was the common tone.

Slyusarchuk does not seem to have serious chess plans (even if he briefly mentioned the possibility of giving a simul on 150 boards). He has no interest in playing against Vassily Ivanchuk, because, as the professor said, he will win [easily] and then what?

Instead, Slyusarchuk hopes that the state will now invest funds into the creation of the Brain Institute in Ukraine. Which can be headed as one may suspect by Dr. Slyusarchuk himself. So, in a way, the potential award for the winner can be the highest in the history of chess.

The full information about who were the match organisers is not that easy to find, at least to me. One way or another, preparations for the match (whatever they were) took many months. There was a jury at the match, which included, in particular, GMs Baklan and Drozdovskij (both abstained from making any strong statements after the match, so far as I know), and there was anti-cheating control: Slyusarchuk was searched for devices of any kind before play.

So, now it is an immensely difficult task to explain to non-chess-players in Ukraine that something unfair might have taken place. And, for proving that the mystification indeed took place, there is possibly no chance at all. What can help are Slyusarchuk's numerous absurd statements, which show his complete ignorance of chess (quite unforgivable for a guy who has read, as it is claimed, more than 2000 chess books within several months!), and also some silly mistakes that he made when announcing his moves during the match.

An interesting detail is that a short report about the match with links was posted at the Ukrainian federation website, but then removed. The details of the Slyusarchuk biography are lately actively discussed by editors of the Russian language Wikipedia.

Grandmaster Georgy Timoshenko sent me an article in Russian, which I posted on my blog, about Slyusarchuk's previous (collapsed!) chess-related attempt in Kiev, when he claimed that he is able to memorise multiple chess positions at almost one hundred of boards or so. The article proves nothing about the Rybka match, but gives a clear impression of who Slyusarchuk is.

I also learned from another person that there were negotiations between Slyusarchuk's team and one of the top Ukrainian grandmasters. Slyusarchuk wanted to play blindfolded, sitting no closer than five meters from the board. But this match never took place.

I am not planning to make this article as long as possible, but will show both games below. The official site of the event, with the livestream record still available here.

An interesting video showing the setup and orchestration of the match, including the
body search of the player for electronic devices and the way the moves were called

The games against Rybka – annotated by GM Mikhail Golubev

Andriy Slyusarchuk played Rybka on April 27, 2011, at 10:00 a.m. It was organised in the President Hotel in Kiev, under the patronage of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports in Ukraine. The machine used had a IntelCore i7-2600K processor running at 3.40GHz. The opponent was "Fritz 11 Deep Rybka 4 x64".

Andriy Slyusarchuk - COMP Rybka [B80]
Hra Stolittia Kiev UKR, 27.04.2011 [Mikhail Golubev (]

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 3.Nf3 Nc6

4.d4. Here Slyusarchuk tried to announce the 'move' c2-c4 and then quickly corrected himself. This episode was shown in the TV reports. 4...cxd4 5.Nxd4 Qc7 6.g3 a6 7.Bg2 Nf6 8.0-0 d6 9.Re1 Bd7 10.Nxc6

10...Bxc6. The computer experts share the opinion that preference to 10...bxc6! should normally be given in Rybka's opening book. 11.Nd5 Bxd5 12.exd5 e5+/=

Still, the position has sometimes been played by grandmasters with black. 13.Re3!N A novelty, which resembles Re1-e3! from the game which Fritz won against Kramnik in 2006, in the Najdorf System. By coincidence, in 2002 I played this position in a blindflod training game (NOT against Rybka!) and preferred 13.f4 Be7 14.fxe5 dxe5 15.d6?! (what to say, Slyusarchuk's novelty in far too complex to find for me). After his 13th move Slyusarchuk said to spectators that he was planning the game 30 moves ahead. It can be seen and heard in the livestream video. 13...Be7 14.Rc3 Qd7 15.a4 0-0 16.a5 Rfc8 17.Rb3 Rc4 18.Bf1 Rc7 19.Be3 Re8 20.Rb4

White is manoeuvring brilliantly. 20...e4. Creating a weakness, which White energetically exploited later. 21.Bg2 Qf5 22.c3 Bf8 23.Qb3 Qh5 24.Re1 Qxd5 25.Qxd5 Nxd5 26.Rxe4 Rxe4 27.Bxe4 Nxe3 28.Rxe3

White dominates in the endgame. 28...g6 29.Bd5 Rc5 30.c4 Rxa5 31.Rf3 b6 32.Bxf7+ Kh8 33.Bxg6 Bg7 34.Be4 Bxb2 35.Rf7 h5 36.Bd5 b5 37.cxb5 axb5 38.Rd7 Ba3 39.Kg2 Bc5 40.f4 Ra7

41.Rd8+ Kg7 42.Kh3 Kg6 43.Kh4 Re7 44.Rg8+ Kf6 45.Kxh5 Rh7+ 46.Kg4 Rxh2 47.Rf8+ Ke7 48.Rf7+ Ke8 49.Rb7 Kd8 50.Rxb5 Rd2 51.Be4 Rd4 52.Kf5 Rb4 53.Rxb4 Bxb4 54.Ke6 Ke8 55.f5 Kd8 56.g4 1-0. [Click to replay]

More video footage of the match against Rybka for you to study – together with the games

COMP Rybka - Andriy Slyusarchuk [B94]
Hra Stolittia Kiev UKR, 27.04.2011 [Mikhail Golubev (]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6

According to his interview for the mega newspaper 'Fakty i Kommentarii', Slyusarchuk said after the match that already on the fifth move of the second game he understood that he had gone astray and would make a draw at best. [Mama mia! M.G.] 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.f4 e5 8.Nf5 Qb6 9.Qd2 Qxb2 10.Rb1 Qa3

This is an interesting opening line, generally. 11.fxe5N. Rybka (or a weaker version of Rybkas as some suspect) also has the right to be innovative. 11...dxe5 12.Bc4 Qa5 13.0-0 Qc5+ 14.Ne3 b5 15.Bd5 Ra7 16.Kh1 Rc7 17.Rb3 h6 18.Bh4 b4 19.Ncd1

19...a5. People say that here Slyusarchuk tried to announce the move 19...h5 at first. 20.Nb2 Be7 21.Nd3 Qb6 22.a3 Nc5 23.Nxc5 Qxc5 24.axb4 axb4 25.Bg3 Bd6 26.Bh4 Be7 27.Bg3 Bd6 28.Bh4 Be7

The top Ukrainian news agency Unian reported that Slyusarchuk who did not see the screen where Rybka announced the threefold repetition and a draw, could not immediately understand why the auditorium suddenly stood up applauding. ...Pity that the Unian reporters hardly could have gotten the idea what this episode might have meant. 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

One more video with match footage – to show how Slyusarchuk's performance is
going viral in the Ukrainian TV media and will soon do so internationally

Previous ChessBase articles

Amateur beats Rybka blindfold – while hell freezes over
29.04.2011 – Chinese media and other sources tell us that Ukrainian chess amateur Andrew Slyusarchuk beat Rybka 4.0 in a two-game blindfold match after reading three thousand books on the subject. The reports also says the 39-year-old doctor can recite 20,000 books by heart and has memorized 30 million digits of Pi. There are lots of video demonstrations, but as Robert Ripley used to say...

Slyusarchuk's incredible chess memory feats
01.05.2011 – Remember Andriy Slyusarchuk? The chess amateur who read three thousand books about the game and then went on to beat Rybka blindfold? The Ukrainian professor performs other mental feats, like memorizing 80 chess boards in 4½ minutes and then identifying changes made to them. GM Georgy Timoshenko took part in the act and wrote a wonderfully entertaining expose.

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