- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 19, 2002

Imperturbable, unflappable, emotionally oblivious, the machine has clawed its way back into the contest.

At a time when a human opponent might have mentally thrown in the towel, software world champ Deep Fritz has staged a startling comeback in its eight-game match with human classical chess world champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia.

Outsmarted and outclassed in the first half of the $1 million match in Bahrain, the German-Dutch program roared back with wins in Games 5 and 6 earlier this week to even the match. After Thursday's game, which ended in a 27-move draw, the dead-even competition will be decided by today's eighth and final game.

Kramnik proved all too mortal in the consecutive defeats, overlooking an elementary tactic in Game 5 and risking a promising but ill-advised speculative sacrifice to lose with White in Game 6.

Kramnik had had things pretty much his way until the machine put up its best fight of the match in Game 5, which we pick up from today's diagram where Deep Fritz has just played 34. Na7-c8. Black's b-pawn is very shaky and Kramnik was in for a long night defending a pawn-down ending.

But Black radically shortens his suffering with 34…Qc4??, a stunning oversight for a player of Kramnik's talent and accuracy. The punishment: 35. Ne7+, forcing instant resignation as White takes the hanging knight on e5 on its next move.

Game 6, presented below, may in its way have been even more demoralizing, for Kramnik gets the better of the opening and launches what seems a lethal attack with a knight sacrifice. But stout defense and the ability to find even the smallest holes in an attacker's calculations are the computer's bread and butter, and Kramnik winds up with his second consecutive zero.

This Queen's Indian, after 13. a4 Bf6 14. e4, cedes White a much freer game, but Deep Fritz scores at least a moral victory in keeping the queens on the board and ensuring a wide-open, complex struggle. Perhaps no human grandmaster could have survived the White onslaught after 17. Ne4 exd5 18. Nd6!? dxc4 19. Nxf7!? (played after a 42-minute think), driving the Black king out into the open. Discretion, however, in the form of 19. Bd5, might have been the better choice; e.g. 19…Nc5 20. Bxf7+ Kf8 21. Bxe8 Qxd6 22. Bb5 Bxb5 23. axb5, with a material edge.

The Black king is chased across the kingside, but the knockout blow never comes: 22. Be4+ Rxe4! (Kh6 23. Qh3+ Bh4 24. Bd2+ g5 25. Qxh4+ Kg7 26. Qxh7+ is winning for White) 23. Qxe4+ Kh6 24. h4 Bf6 25. Bd2+ g5 26. hxg5+ Bxg5.

Kramnik said later he assumed now that 27. Qe6+ Nf6 (Qf6? 28. Bxg5+ Kxg5 29. f4+ Kg6 30. Qg4+ Kf7 31. Qxd7 leaves White in charge) 28. f4 was winning, only noticing at the last minute the computer's intended defense: 28…Bh4!! 29. gxh4 Qg8+ 30. Qxg8 Rxg8+ 31. Kf2 Ne4+ 32. Ke1 cxb3, with a big edge for Black.

Black's defense, though precarious, holds and in the end, Fritz turns the tables with a sacrifice of its own: 32. a5 Qd5 33. Qxd5 Nxd5 34. axb6 (Rab1 Bc4 35. axb6 axb6 would not have changed things) axb6!. White may have given up too early, as it's still a fight on 35. Rxa6 b2 36. Ra7+ Kg6 37.Rd7 Nc3 (37…Rc1 38. Rd6+ Nf6 39. Rdd1 b1=Q 40. Rxc1) 38. Rd2 b1=Q 39. Rxb1 Nxb1 40. Rb2, with some chances to hold, but the demoralized champ gave up.

•••

Rank afforded no privileges as Army Pvt. Andres Suarez took clear first in the 43rd U.S. Armed Forces Chess Championship Open earlier this week at the Days Inn in Capitol Heights, Md.

Suarez, an expert, gave up only a last-round draw to Coast Guard Petty Officer Donald H. McMahon to finish at 4½-½, with McMahon, Maj. Dave Hater, Petty Officer 2nd Class Peter Andres and Staff Sgt. Christopher Brashears all bunched at 4-1. A total of 37 players competed, the highest turnout for the venerable event in five years.

A smart salute is in order to Maj. Hater and fellow Maj. Zachary McKinney, the organizers who have kept this event alive after the Pentagon decided to move to a different, team-oriented inter-service competition.

In martial terms, Andres' win over Virginia Class A player Ralph Belter is a textbook example of how to break a siege with a patient but well-timed counterattack. Black actually gets a very respectable Benko Gambit-type position here, even with the early queen trade. The Black rooks and fianchettoed bishop exert strong pressure on the queenside, while the White army is reduced to a defensive role.

But Belter declines the draw by threefold repetition after 29. Nb5 Ra6, and White finally breaks the Black positional clamp with 32. h3 Nd7 33. Bc3 Bxc3 34. Nxc3. The queenside pawns start rolling on 39. b4 cxb4 40. Rxb4 Rxb4 41. Rxb4, and the pawn Black gambitted way back on Move 4 now proves decisive.

Andres opens a second front at just the right time with 49. Kd4 Kd6 50. g4!, when the Black forces are still preoccupied with the White a-pawn.

Simplifying to a knight ending with 52. Rb5 Rxb5 53. Nxb5+ Ke6 54. Nc3 hastens the conclusion, as now 54…Nc5 55. Nxd5 Nxa4 56. Nf6 h6 57. Ng8 h5 58. gxh5 Nc5 59. h6 Ne6+ 60. Ke5 Nf8 61. Kf6 Kd6 62. h4 Kd7 63. Kf7 Nh7 64. Nf6+ would win for White.

After 54…Nf6 55. g5, another pawn must fall. Black resigned.

Brains in Bahrain Match, Game 6, October 2002


KramnikDeep Fritz

1. d4Nf618. Nd6dxc4

2. c4e619. Nxf7Kxf7

3. Nf3b620. Bd5+Kg6

4. g3Ba621. Qg4+Bg5

5. b3Bb4+22. Be4+Rxe4

6. Bd2Be723. Qxe4+Kh6

7. Bg2c624. h4Bf6

8. Bc3d525. Bd2+g5

9. Ne5Nfd726. hxg5+Bxg5

10. Nxd7Nxd727. Qh4+Kg6

11. Nd20-028. Qe4+Kg7

12. 0-0Rc829. Bxg5Qxg5

13. a4Bf630. Rfe1cxb3

14. e4c531. Qxd4+Nf6

15. exd5cxd432. a5Qd5

16. Bb4Re833. Qxd5Nxd5

17. Ne4exd534. axb6axb6

White resigns


43rd U.S. Armed Forces Chess Championship Open, Capitol Heights, October 2002

AndresBelter

1. d4 Nf629. Nb5Ra6

2. c4c530. Ke2f5

3. d5b531. exf5gxf5

4. cxb5a632. h3Nd7

5. e3axb533. Bc3Bxc3

6. Bxb5Qa5+34. Nxc3Rb4

7. Nc3g635. Na2Rb7

8. Nge2Bg736. Nc3Rb4

9. Qa40-037. Na2Rb7

10. Qxa5Rxa538. Rcb2Rab6

11. 0-0d639. b4cxb4

12. f3Ba640. Rxb4Rxb4

13. Bxa6Rxa641. Rxb4Rc7

14. e4Nbd742. Kd2Kf7

15. Rb1Rb843. Nc3Rc5

16. b3Ne544. Rf4e6

17. Be3Nd345. dxe6+Kxe6

18. Rfd1Nb446. Rh4Nf6

19. a4Nd747. Kd3d5

20. Nb5Ne548. Rb4Nd7

21. Bd2Ned349. Kd4Kd6

22. Nc1Nxc150. g4fxg4

23. Rdxc1Nd351. fxg4Ra5

24. Rc2Rb752. Rb5Rxb5

25. Kf1Ne553. Nxb5+Kc6

26. Na3Rab654. Nc3Nf6

27. Nb5Ra655. g5Black

28. Na3Rab6resigns


David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by e-mail at [email protected]


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