The grandmaster's brain

11/27/2003 – Two rounds were played today at the World Computer Chess Championship in Graz, with Fritz entertaining the public with tactical fireworks. It and the program Shredder are now in the lead. Meanwhile grandmaster Boris Alterman's brain was hooked up to a computer. Was this done to help his program Junior? Our report reveals the whole truth.

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In round six Shredder disposed of Falcon with its usual brutal efficiency. But the first game to end was the following remarkable encounter:

Fritz - Diep, WCCC Graz (6), 26.11.2003

Diep has just played 36...Rf6-f4. While people in the playing hall are still speculating whether Fritz can convert its advantage into a full point ("could be tough") the evaluation of the program suddenly jumps to over two pawns. Fritz is essentially calling the game. And the move is... 37.g5+! GM Peter Wells, who is doing live commentary, goes over to the board and discusses the position with the programmers. "So after 37...Kxg5 Fritz is going to take with the queen on h7, and then how does it proceed?" We hear Mathias Feist say: "No, it wants to move the rook to c6 and says that is winning." "What about the queen checks on b2 and f2?" Peter asks. "I don't know," says Mathias, "Fritz is not afraid of them." And rightly so: 38.Rc6! Qxb2 39.Qxh7. The threat is Rxg6# 39...R8f6. The continuation 39...Qxf2+ 40.Kh1 R8f6 leads to the same position as in the game. 40.Kh1 Qxf2 41.R6c2 Qg3 42.Rg1 Rf1.

Look at the terrifying cross pins. But Fritz is showing over six pawns and knows how to resolve it: 43.Rcg2! Rxg1+ 44.Kxg1 Qxg2+ 45.Bxg2 and Black is hopelessly down on material. The game ended after 45...Kf5 46.Qd7+ Kg5 47.Qg7 Rf5 48.Kh2 Nc5 49.Kg3 (Fritz attacks with its king) 49...Rf6 50.h4+ Kf5 51.Bh3+ Ke4 52.Qxf6 1-0. Fire on the board, as Shirov likes to say.

And here's the game Brutus lost to the reigning computer chess world champion:

Brutus - Deep Junior [B67] 11th WCCC Graz (6), 26.11.2003:1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bg5 e6 7.Qd2 a6 8.0-0-0 Bd7 9.f4 b5 10.Bxf6 gxf6 11.Kb1 b4 12.Nce2 Qb6 13.g3 Rc8 14.Bg2 Na5 15.b3 Nc6 16.Nxc6 Qxc6 17.Rc1 Qb6 18.Rhf1 a5 19.f5 e5 20.c3 h5 21.cxb4 axb4 22.Rxc8+ Bxc8 23.Rd1 Ke7 24.Nc1 Bh6 25.Qe1 Ba6 26.Bf1 Bxf1 27.Qxf1 Rc8 28.Nd3 Rc3 29.Qe2 Qb5 30.Kb2 Qa6 31.a4 Qb6 32.Ne1 h4 33.Nc2 h3 34.Qe1 Kf8 35.Rd5 Bg5 36.a5 Qa7 37.Nxb4 Rc1 38.Rd1 Rc8 39.Nc2 Qc5 40.Na3 Be3 41.b4 Bd4+ 42.Kb3 Qc7 43.Rd3 Rb8 44.b5 Bc5 45.Qc3 Qc6 46.Qb4 Qc7 47.Rc3 Qb7 48.Rxc5 dxc5 49.Qxc5+ Kg7 50.Qd5 Qe7 51.b6 Rd8 52.Qb5 Qd6 53.Qe2 Qc5 54.Nb5 Qc1 55.Qc2 Qf1 56.Nc3 Rc8 57.Kb2 Qg1 58.Kb3 Qc5 59.Qd3 Qxa5 60.Qe3 Rc6 61.Nd5 Qb5+ 62.Nb4 Rxb6 63.Qd2 Qf1 64.g4 Qb1+ 65.Ka3 Rb5 66.Ka4 Rxb4+ 67.Qxb4 Qa2+ 68.Kb5 Qxh2 0-1.

Round seven brought a quick draw between the two title contenders Deep Junior and Shredder. Interestingly this was move-by-move exactly the game played between Anand and Gelfand at the FIDE World Cup KO Shenyang (10.09.2000). There are a few other games as well in which the final position of the Junior-Shredder game occurred.

Brutus looked quite dejected over its round six loss and never really got into the kill-anything mood it was in the first four rounds. Against List it did not have serious winning chances at any stage and had to defend to obtain the draw. Once again it was left to Fritz to provide the fireworks.

Green Light - Fritz [D17] WCCC 2003 Graz (7), 26.11.2003

Black is already much better, but take a look at the way Fritz ends it all: 28...h3 29.gxh3 Nf4 30.d5 Nxh3 31.Qf5+ e6 32.Nxe6 Nf2+ 33.Kg1 Rh1+ 34.Kg2 Qe5 35.Bd3 Nxd3 36.Nd4+ Qxf5 37.Nxf5 Bf4+ 38.Ng3 Rxg3+ 39.Kxh1 Nf2+ 40.Kh2 Rg5# 0-1. Thanks to Green Light for allowing the game to go all the way to this pretty mate.

Round 1 – Nov 22, 2003
 Diep  Quark
1-0
 List  Shredder
0-1
 Chinito  Jonny
0-1
 Nexus  Parsos
draw
 Fritz  Falcon
1-0
 Hossa  Deep Sjeng
0-1
 Deep Junior  Ruy Lopez
0-1
 Green Light  Brutus
0-1
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Round 2 – Nov 23, 200
 Deep Sjeng  Fritz
0-1
 Jonny  Nexus
draw
 Quark  List
0-1
 Falcon  Hossa
1-0
 Parsos  Deep Junior
0-1
 Shredder  Diep
1-0
 Brutus  Ruy Lopez
1-0
 Green Light  Chinito
1-0
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Round 3 – Nov 23, 200
 Fritz  Shredder
1-0
 Jonny  Brutus
0-1
 Chinito  Parsos
1-0
 Diep  Falcon
draw
 Nexus  Deep Sjeng
0-1
 Ruy Lopez  Green Light
0-1
 Deep Junior  List
1-0
 Hossa  Quark
0-1
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Round 4 – Nov 24, 2003
 Quark  Chinito
0-1
 List  Nexus
1-0
 Falcon  Jonny
1-0
 Brutus  Fritz
1-0
 Parsos  Hossa
1-0
 Shredder  Green Light
1-0
 Deep Sjeng  Deep Junior
0-1
 Ruy Lopez  Diep
0-1
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Round 5 – Nov 25, 2003
 Nexus  Quark
0-1
 Deep Junior  Fritz
draw
 Shredder  Brutus
1-0
 Jonny  Parsos
1-0
 Hossa  Ruy Lopez
1-0
 Diep  Deep Sjeng
draw
 Green Light  Falcon
1-0
 Chinito  List
0-1
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Round 6 – Nov 26, 2003
 Quark  Parsos
draw
 Deep Sjeng  Jonny
+–
 Fritz  Diep
1-0
 Brutus  Junior
0-1
 Hossa  Nexus
–/+
 Falcon  Shredder
0-1
 List  Green Light
draw
 Ruy Lopez  Chinito
0-1
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Round 7 – Nov 26, 2003
 Green Light  Fritz
0-1
 Parsos  Falcon
1-0
 Nexus  Ruy Lopez
1-0
 Junior  Shredder
draw
 Jonny  Quark
0-1
 Chinito  Deep Sjeng
1-0
 Diep  Hossa
1-0
 List  Brutus
draw
Replay and download games
 

Another correction of the result between Ruy Lopz and Green Light in round three

Picture Gallery


So what did Anand play against Gelfand in this position? Shredder (with Stefan Meyer-Kahlen, left) and Junior (Amir Ban and Shay Bushinsky right) replay a GM draw in round seven.


Ulf Lorenz, part of the Brutus team, looks confident at the start of the game against List.


We can now reveal the secret of Deep Junior's performance in Graz. The program interfaces directly with the brain of grandmaster Boris Alterman, who until now had been forced to program the openings book in the traditional manner.


Okay, the truth of the matter is that the University of Graz conducted an experiment to measure the brain patterns of the grandmaster during five minute games against a computer. Initial results showed that Alterman displayed an extraordinary degree of cortical relaxation and an an unexpected reduction of brain activity during the game. Also that the right brain was slightly more active than the logical left half. Exciting stuff which should be systematically studied.


Commentator Peter Wells demonstrating what the authors of the programs (here Thomas Mayer, right) can expect if they play against a grandmaster.

Frans Morsch

Today was Fritz day, with two spectacular wins by the Dutch-German program. In the end Fritz and Shredder were in the lead, with all the strongest opponents behind them. Peter Shreiner discussed the situation with Fritz author Frans Morsch.

Question: Frans, how do you like Graz?

Morsch: Graz is very beautiful. We have had lovely weather. But I am most impressed by the local cuisine.

Question: you have been taking part in computer world championships since 1986 in Cologne. How does this one in Graz compare to the others you have attended?

Morsch: I have never been to a computer tournament that was so well organised. There are no reasons to complain, the conditions are superb. I feel I am part of the world cultural center of Graz.

Question: After round seven you and Shredder are in the lead, and it looks like one of you will take the title. What do you say about Fritz's performance, which will its strategy be during the rest of the tournament?

Morsch: In the past years we have always tried to beat the amateur programs with tactical means. But this has become too dangerous, because you have to take a lot of risks. That has cost us a number of points in the past. The latest version of Fritz plays excellent positional chess, as you were able to see for instance in its game against Shredder. That is our strength.

Question: Is the dramatic improvement in strategic play a result of the preparation for the match against Garry Kasparov?

Morsch: That is correct. I spent a lot of time and effort making Fritz strategically as strong as it is in the tactical area. I am convinced that only by improving the positional understanding of the program that its performance can be further improved. I am very gratified that this seems to be working not just against human player but also against other programs.

Question: What does it feel like to have your program play against the strongest player of all time?

Morsch: What can I say? To play against Garry Kasparov was the greatest moment of my career!


All games are being transmitted live on the Playchess.com server. This includes audio commentary by GM Peter Wells and video impressions from the tournament hall.

In order to follow the games you can use Fritz or any Fritz-compatible program (Shredder, Junior, Tiger, Hiarcs) to follow the action, or download a free trial client here.

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