Using Deep Fritz 14 on a smartphone

by ChessBase
4/13/2015 – Recently, Danny Gormally wrote an entertaining article ‘The Komodo files’ where the Grandmaster describes his experience of working with a chess engine. While it is certainly the Summa Cum Laude of chess engines, the weekend chess warriors may balk at carrying a laptop. In this article you will see how you can easily fulfill your needs with Deep Fritz on a smartphone.

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By A. Ganesan

Meanwhile, in an interview, Vishy Anand said that smartphones were now strong enough to beat the world champion. Here was a nice opportunity to test this assertion. How would ChessBase for Android smartphones, with Deep Fritz 14 built in, compare to GM Gormally’s analysis with Komodo, ‘rumoured to be one of the strongest engines around, if not the strongest’? For those interested in the technical details, I used my two-year old LG Nexus 5 Googlephone and generally followed Fritz’s instant recommendation. In some complex positions, I let the program run up to a depth of 20 ply (taking about a minute on the Googlephone).

In the Engine settings, you will find an assortment of engines. Don't
think of them as stronger or weaker, but rather as different styles, all
of which are World Champion caliber.

Once done, you will see the eninge you chose. Deep Fritz 14 on Android is true to its 'Deep'
roots, and can take full advantage of mult-core processors. Quad-core smartphones are
commonplace nowadays.

Daniel Gormally vs C. Huassernot

[Event "Training Game, Alnwick"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Gormally, D."] [Black "COMP Komodo"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C88"] [Annotator "Danny Gormally"] [PlyCount "36"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [SourceDate "2015.03.01"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. a4 Bb7 9. d3 d6 10. Nbd2 Nd7 11. c3 Nc5 12. Bc2 ({Using the database function, I see White scores higher with} 12. axb5 axb5 13. Rxa8 {which avoids giving up the Bishop}) 12... Nxa4 ({Fritz prefers the more flexible and human moves} 12... Bf6 {or Qd7. Anyhow, once Black plays Nd7-c5, he must be prepared for Nxa4 as White can force this trade by playing} 13. b4) 13. Bxa4 bxa4 14. Qxa4 Qe8 ({Found immediately by Fritz, although} 14... Kh8 {is the most common move in the database}) 15. d4 exd4 16. cxd4 d5 $3 {Given two exclamation marks by GM Gormally, but found immediately by Fritz} 17. e5 Nb4 18. Qb3 Qb5 ({Fritz's second choice with an evaluation of -0.44 while} 18... Qc6 {is preferred at -0. 65}) 0-1

As can be seen, sometimes one engine can choose a top move, in minor
disagreement with another engine, but that fits your understanding and
perception of the game. It makes sense to play it than one you find bizarre.

Daniel Gormally vs John Anderson

[Event "Hastings"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Gormally, D."] [Black "Anderson, John"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D15"] [Annotator "Danny Gormally"] [PlyCount "44"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [SourceDate "2015.03.01"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. e4 b5 6. e5 Nd5 7. a4 e6 8. Ng5 h6 9. Nge4 b4 ({Both the text and} 9... Qb6 { are considered =+ by Fritz}) 10. Nb1 Ba6 11. Nbd2 Nf4 12. Qg4 Nd3+ 13. Bxd3 cxd3 14. O-O ({White has also tried} 14. Nd6+ Bxd6 15. Qxg7 Bf8 16. Qxh8 Qxd4 {In practice, Black has scored very well from this position.} 17. O-O Nd7 18. Nf3 Qg4 19. Bxh6 Qh5 20. Bg7 Qxh8 21. Bxh8 Bh6 22. Rfd1 Ke7 23. Bf6+ Nxf6 24. exf6+ Kxf6 25. g3 c5 26. b3 e5 27. Re1 e4 28. Rxe4 Bb7 29. Rh4 Bxf3 30. Rxh6+ Ke5 31. Re1+ Kd4 32. Kf1 Kc3 33. Re3 Be2+ 34. Ke1 c4 35. Rc6 Kxb3 36. Rxe2 dxe2 37. Kxe2 Rd8 {0-1 (37) Trzcinski,I-Sanchez,J ICCF corr 1990}) 14... Qd5 15. Re1 Nd7 16. Nf3 c5 ({Like Komodo, Fritz's first choice is} 16... Bc4 { evaluated at (-0.50). The database has two examples with 0-0-0 among which Neven-Epiney, a correspondence game, featured the text c5. As Anderson plays both postal and OTB chess, it would be interesting to know if he was aware of the precedent.}) 17. dxc5 ({In the line given by GM Gormally} 17. Nd6+ Bxd6 18. exd6 c4 19. Qxg7 O-O-O 20. Qxf7 {Fritz considers} Bb7 {= as best instead of c3?!}) 17... Nxc5 18. Nd6+ ({The TN, Neven-Epiney went} 18. Nxc5 Qxc5 19. Be3 Qc4 {eventually drawn.} (19... Qd5 {looks more forceful})) 18... Bxd6 19. exd6 Nb3 20. Bf4 ({Fritz prefers} 20. Rb1 g5 21. Qxb4 O-O {with an evaluation of (-0.46)}) 20... Nxa1 21. Qxg7 O-O-O 22. Rxa1 d2 {The rest is messy in a human way as both players must have already expended a lot of time and energy up to here...} 0-1

Here is another short example: 

Daniel Gormally vs C. Haussernot

[Event "Hastings"] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Gormally, D."] [Black "Haussernot, C."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B51"] [Annotator "Danny Gormally"] [PlyCount "33"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [SourceDate "2015.03.01"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Nd7 4. d4 Ngf6 5. e5 Qa5+ 6. Nc3 Ne4 7. Rb1 e6 ({ Here we see an example of engine-like greed as Fritz prefers} 7... cxd4 8. Qxd4 Nxc3 9. bxc3 Qxa2 10. Rb2 Qe6 11. O-O a6 {This may be playable but would be uncomfortable to defend as a human. Nevertheless, having played Qa5+ Black must be prepared for a principled follow-up as the text just leaves White with a strong risk-free initiative.}) 8. d5 a6 9. Bxd7+ Bxd7 10. O-O Nxc3 11. bxc3 Qc7 ({A solid advantage in Fritz's opinion that analyzes} 11... Bb5 12. dxe6 O-O-O 13. Rxb5 $1 axb5 14. Bg5 {and White has a clear plus.}) 12. Ng5 exd5 13. Re1 {Completely winning according to Fritz.} 13... Be6 14. exd6 Qxd6 15. Rxb7 Be7 16. Nxe6 fxe6 17. Qg4 {...} 1-0

As can be seen, in all three examples the key ideas and variations were quickly found by the smartphone. All this at an incredibly modest price of 10 €! While ChessBase on the smartphone doesn’t have all the features of the PC version, it is great value for money and handy to use. It has certainly made my preparation literally lighter as nowadays I don’t bother taking a laptop to a tournament.

Even this handheld device will take down the greatest grandmasters

The key to using engines is to know when to trust their evaluation and when to let them run a little longer. For serious readers, I highly recommend Robin Smith’s book ‘Modern Chess Analysis’ for examples on how this is approached by correspondence chess players.

While looking at the games taking place in the 2015 US championship, the game Holt-Troff caught my eye straight from the opening. I remembered a couple of classics in this Gruenfeld variation such as Petrosian-Fischer 1971 where Petrosian ended Bobby’s 20 game winning streak, but I was unfamiliar with the sacrificial idea 8... Rd8 used by Troff.

Here is a short video tutorial on analyzing your games with an engine in ChessBase for Android

No problem, I fired up ChessBase on my smartphone. It is in situations like these that the app’s value comes to the fore as it combines a database and an engine into one handheld program. I could quickly familiarise myself with previous games and analyse some ideas with the engine. For example, I wasn’t sure why Black refrained from playing 11... Na6 until Fritz showed that White can then win a piece for some pawns. The next day, I was pleased to see that GM Josh Friedel gave the same variation.

By the way, it was clear while watching with the help of the engine in the Playchess app, that White was not following up the opening in the most precise way. Ah well, it just goes to show that chess is played by imperfect humans- if not, it would lose its charm.

One dark side of the smartphone’s power is the potential for cheating. At the professional level, I fully believe it is the responsibility of tournament organizers and FIDE to ensure that it does not happen. At the amateur level, yes it is possible, in the same way I can dope myself with illegal drugs to run a local marathon as there is no monitoring. But what is the point? For most of us, these are hobbies and cheating neither has a large financial incentive nor is it personally satisfying.

You can scan the QR codes below with your phone or tablet to go directly to the Play Store or click on the link:

About the author

Ganesan is a professor of chemical biology at the University of East Anglia. Nowadays his chess activities mainly revolve around reading books and watching tournaments on the internet. He occasionally plays OTB chess with a 2000+ rating.

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


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