- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 9, 2002

We venture into cyberspace for our first game and a look at the state of the art in computer chess these days.
The Israeli program Deep Junior 7, the reigning microchip champ, added another trophy icon to its digital desktop by winning last month's fourth annual Internet Chess Club (ICC) Computer Championship with a 9-2 score. Forty-six programs from 14 countries competed.
Junior benefited from a 4-0 start, including a tough Round 3 win over the Dutch program Diep. In a King's Indian/Panno with 7…a6, Black expands on the queenside while White prepares a kingside push. With 12. b3 b5, Diep has built up good pressure on the c4 square, so Deep Junior decides to gambit a pawn. In return, after 13. Bb2!? bxc4 14. Na4 cxb3 15. axb3 Rb8!? (f6 16. f4 Nf7 17. Bc3 Qc7 avoids the coming dark-square weakness around the Black king) 16. Bc3 Nb7 17. f4 Nd7 18. Bxg7, White gets rid of the powerful fianchettoed bishop.
(A pawn is a pawn, but many human KID players would rather give up a finger than trade off that g7-bishop.)
With 19. Qc3+ Kg8 20. Nc4, the position is dynamically equal, as Black's material edge is offset by his boxed-in knights. Diep's 20…f5?! is very double-edged, challenging White's central build-up but accepting what will prove a gamelong weakness on e7. With silicon singlemindedness, Black plans a defense based on using virtually everything he has to shore up the e7-square. It will take another 32 moves of close maneuvering before White breaks through.
Deep Junior shows nice patience in scoring small victories before launching the final assault. White's 37. Kh2 Bd7 38. g5! prepares a pawn storm to loosen the Black king fortress even more, while 42. Kg3 Qb7?! 43. Na5! Qc8 44. Nbc4 seizes the opportunity to activate the b2-knight with tempo.
With Black hunkered down, the finale requires some heavy artillery. White first softens the defenses up with 48. Nc6 (threatening to take out an important defender) Qd7 49. Re6! Nxc6 (obviously not 49…Nxe6 50. fxe6, forking queen and rook, but the trade opens up the d5-square for White's underused bishop) 50. dxc6 Qc7 51. R6e3 h6? (tougher here was 51…d5 52. Qe5 Qxc6 53. Qxd5 Qxd5 54. Bxd5, which at least deflects the coming onslaught) 52. Bd5!.
The dominating White bishop and the cluttered Black pieces leave Deep Junior firmly in charge, but the tactical denouement is nice: 53. gxh6 Rb8 (see diagram; nothing else seems sufficient e.g. 53…Bf5 54. Rxe7! Rxe7 55. Qh8! Rxe1 56. Qxg8+ Ke7 57. h7 and the pawn queens, or 53…Nxh6 54. Rxe7! Nf5+ 55. Kf2 Nxe7 56. Qf6+ Ke8 57. Qxg6+ Kd8 58. Qxh7, with a hopeless game for Black) 54. Rxe7!!.
Diep's circuitry was powerful enough to calculate the bleak options: a) 54…Nxe7 55. Qf6+ Ke8 56. Nxd6+ Qxd6 (Kd8 57. Qf8 mate) 57. Qxd6 and wins; b) 54…Qxe7 55. Rxe7 Rxe7 56. Qh8, again winning easily; and the prettiest line, c) 54…Rxe7 55. Qh8! Rxb3+ 56. Kf2 Rf7 57. Re8+!! Kxe8 58. Bxf7+ Kxf7 (Qxf7 59. Nxd6+ Ke7 60. Nxf7 Kxf7 61. Qg7+ Ke6 62. Qxg8+ Kd6 63. Qxb3, cleaning up) 59. Qg7+ Ke6 60. Qxc7 Ne7 61. h7, and the pawn must queen.
Black resigned.

British GM Nigel Short defeated Iceland's Hannes Stefansson last month in a short but sharp 6-game match in Reykjavik, Iceland. Short opened with a draw and a loss, but rebounded with four fine victories to win the match.
The British former world title challenger's best win was Game 5, an imaginatively conducted attack characteristic of Short at his best. The strategy in this Closed Sicilian resembles that of the Deep Junior game, with play on opposite wings and the loss of a fianchettoed bishop proving critical.
But Short here gives his opponent no targets to aim at on the queenside and Black quickly finds himself on the defensive. As usual, a single slip by the defending side can prove fatal, and Short exploits the inaccuracy ingeniously.
Already under pressure after 21. Bxg7 Kxg7 22. d4 Qb6 23. e5, Stefansson seeks relief in a trade, but instead falls victim to an annoying pin on 23…dxe5 24. dxe5 Bc6? 25. f6+! exf6 26. Rxf6! (exf6+? Kh8 27. Qh6 Rg8, and White is stymied).
Black won't lose his bishop, but in saving it he must cede total control of the f-file to his opponent. After 28. Rbf1, seeking trades again with 28…Qb7 allows 29. Rxc6! Rxc6 30. Rf6 Rfc8 31. Qd4! Qb5 32. e6! Kh6 33. Bxc6 Rxc6 34. Qf4+ Qg5 35. exf7! Rxf6 36. f8=Q+ Rxf8 37. Qxf8 mate.
Even the trade of queens doesn't ease Black's plight. Short finds a neat deflection to hammer home the weakness on f7: 35. e6! Re5 (Rc7 36. Bd5 c3 37. bxc3 bxc3 38. g5! paralyzes the Black game) 36. Bd5!!.
The finale is equally satisfying 36…Rxd5 37. e7 Re5 (Rg5, to prevent White's next move, results in a classic zugzwang for Black after 38. Kh3 c3 39. bxc3 bxc3 40. R1f4, as any move of the rook on g5 allows the same g6-sacrifice seen in the game) 38. Rxg6+!.
Now both 38…fxg6 (Kh8 39. exf8=Q mate) 39. Rxf8 mate and 38…hxg6 39. h7+! Kg7 40. exf8=Q+ Kxf8 41. h8=Q+ Ke7 42. Qxe5+ are crushing. Stefansson resigned.

Local news of note… The Virginia Chess Federation has a new home for local events, moving from the Best Western in Mount Vernon to Herndon's Dulles Hyatt. The next big VCF event is the Northern Virginia Chess Classic, to be held Feb. 23-24.
And the District's Big Chair Chess Club at 4322 Sheriff Road NE is holding a Wednesday evening lecture series this month, with local expert Alfred Hurd and D.C. SM Greg Acholonu among the speakers. For information, contact Eugene Brown at 202/396-1780 or by e-mail at [email protected]

Fourth Internet Chess Club Computer Championship, January 2002
Deep Junior 7Diep
1. d4Nf628. Nab2Rb8
2. c4g629. Qd3Rb5
3. Nf3Bg730. Na4Rb4
4. g30-031. Kh1Rb7
5. Bg2d632. Rg1Kf8
6. Nc3Nc633. Nab2Rb5
7. 0-0a634. Rge1Ng8
8. d5Na535. Rf1Rb4
9. Nd2Ng436. Qc3Qb8
10. Qc2c537. Kh2Bd7
11. h3Ne538. g5Bc8
12. b3b539. Kg1Qb5
13. Bb2bxc440. h4Bd7
14. Na4cxb341. Kh2Bf5
15. axb3Rb842. Kg3Qb7
16. Bc3Nb743. Na5Qc8
17. f4Nd744. Nbc4Bd7
18. Bxg7Kxg745. Qb2Rb5
19. Qc3+Kg846. Rfe1Qc7
20. Nc4f547. Qc3Bc8
21. Rfe1Qc748. Nc6Qd7
22. e4fxe449. Re6Nxc6
23. Rxe4Nf650. dxc6Qc7
24. Re3Nd851. R6e3h6
25. Rae1Rf752. Bd5Rh7
26. g4Rb553. gxh6Rb8
27. Qc2Rb754. Rxe7Black

VIII Gudmundur Arason match, Reykjavik, Iceland, January 2002
Short Stefansson

1. e4c520. Rxf3Ra8
2. Nc3Nc621. Bxg7Kxg7
3. g3g622. d4Qb6
4. Bg2Bg723. e5dxe5
5. d3d624. dxe5Bc6
6. Be3Bd725. f6+exf6
7. f4b526. Rxf6c4+
8. a3Nf627. Kh2Rac8
9. Nf30-028. Rbf1Qc5
10. h3Rb829. Qf4Be8
11. 0-0a530. h4Rd8
12. g4Ne831. h5Rd4
13. Rb1b432. h6+Kg8
14. axb4axb433. Qe3Rd5
15. Ne2Nc734. Qxc5Rxc5
16. f5Nb535. e6Re5
17. Qd2Nbd436. Bd5Rxd5
18. Nexd4Nxd437. e7Re5
19. Bh6Nxf3+38. Rxg6+Black
David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by e-mail at dsands@washingtontimes.com.

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