Smirin on computers: God bless me!

by ChessBase
4/10/2002 – In a few days GM Ilya Smirin is going to start his match against four top chess programs. It will be broadcast live on the Fritz7 Playchess server and on Kasparov Chess. This comes after experienced Grandmaster Boris Gulko, Elo 2605, lost his match 3:5 points. Will Smirin do better? He is an Elo 2702 Super-GM and the world number 15, and he has experience playing computers. Ilya shares his thoughts on the forthcoming match with us here.

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Tough Battle!

Q: Why did you agree to participate in this contest?

A: Frankly speaking it’s just another interesting experience for me! I have always been curious about the importance of psychological elements in my play and in chess in general and now it’s a great opportunity to check it out playing against “silicon brains” of the chess programs!

Q: What do you think are the odds to win this competition?

A: It’s very hard to say… let’s put it this way: I consider myself the underdog, but nevertheless I’m quiet optimistic!

Q: How would you evaluate the strength of chess programs you are going to compete with and do you see the differences between the programs which may influence your play this way or another?

A: In my opinion they are extremely strong, I’d say about 2700 or even higher. I don’t see a big difference between the programs, although I’m pretty sure all of them have their stronger and weaker sides.

Q: What do you think about the time control?

A: I don’t complain about it! Of course if we’d play with classical controls my chances would increase significantly, but I think the one used is okay as well.

Q: Would you mind to say a few words about your preparation for this event and what kind of strategy are you going to use?

A: Nothing special I guess: I’m going to analyze a few games of each one of the programs I’m going to play a few training games versus Fritz 7. In this sense the most recent games of Gulko versus the computers contest should be very useful. Concerning the strategy, I may just say that I will try to avoid open positions with a lot of tactical possibilities, which are considered to be the strongest part of computer’s play. Nevertheless I came to the conclusion that in order to win against a program you have no choice, but to enter a tactical battle when it’s needed, so I will take certain risks by doing so!

By the way I think that Gulko played quiet well in this contest, but didn’t use all practical chances that he had. I fully agree with his opinion that experience of playing versus programs plays a major role in the competition, and that’s one of the reasons why I consider myself an underdog: last time I played versus program was back in 1996 and a lot of things has changed since then…

Finally, I do not want to repeat all numerous remarks concerning strong and weak points of computer program’s "thinking", I will just say, that I am going to avoid any tactics except double threat, fork, winning a piece, rook or queen. God bless me!

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