- The Washington Times - Friday, December 5, 2003

The German program Shredder is the new king of the silicon heap, having won the 11th World Computer Chess Championship earlier this week in Graz, Austria, in a tournament that featured some all-too-human controversy.

Shredder edged the Dutch entry Fritz in a two-game rapid playoff after the two finished with identical 91/2-11/2 scores. Fritz had beaten Shredder earlier in the tournament but suffered an upset loss to Austrian software upstart Brutus, which finished a surprising fourth.

The first brouhaha came with the disqualification, midtournament, of programmer Fritz Reul’s LIST program, which the judges deemed to be essentially a rip-off of the American program Crafty, whose programming codes are openly available.

The more intriguing dust-up concerned today’s first game, played in the final round as Shredder tried to keep pace with Fritz and force the playoff. Shredder conducted a brilliant attack against the outmatched German program Jonny 2.51, but — because of a bug in the program — permitted a threefold repetition of the position just as it was about to administer the killing move.

This Scheveningen Sicilian produces just the kind of game you like from the silicon beasts, a heavily tactical affair with wide-open play on both sides of the board. Jonny’s 15. fxg5 Nh5!? is classic computer play: a scary-looking move that maroons the knight on the edge, but one that White can’t exploit.

But with 19. Kb1 Bxg5 20. f6, uncovering an attack on the rook, Shredder breaks up Black’s king-side pawns and obtains a very dangerous attack with the aid of a temporary piece sacrifice: 23. Rhf1 Qh4 24. Qf5! dxc3 25. Rg1.

Black feels obligated to return the piece, as on 25…f6? 26. Rd7+, Black must give up the knight anyway with 26…Ne7 since 26…Kh8 (Kf8 27. Qe6 with unstoppable mate) 27. Rxg5! fxg5 28. Qf6+ Kg8 29. Bc4 is mate. Shredder shows no let-up after 30. Qd6+ Kg8 31. Rxf7! Qxf7 (Kxf7 32. Rf5+ Kg8 [Ke8 33. Bb5+] 33. Qe6+ Kh8 34. Rh5+ Qh7 35. Qxg6! wins.) 32. Rxg6+ Kh7 leaves Black’s king not long for the world.

But things start getting weird after 33. Rg4?! (better seems 33. Rh6+ Kg7 34. Rh3 Qf6 35. Rg3+ Kf7 36. Bh5+, leading to a quick mate) Rab8. White’s still winning, but Shredder now gives a few time-wasting checks and throws the win entirely away on 37. Rg4+?? Kh7.

Astonishingly, the position on the board is the same as after moves 33 and 35, with White again to play. Jonny’s screen flashed the “threefold repetition” message, meaning Black could claim an immediate draw, but Jonny programmer Johannes Zwanzger elected to play on, saying Shredder should not be punished for a programming glitch.

Given a reprieve, Shredder proceeds with the execution: 38. Bc4! (a ploy to exploit the back rank by breaking up Black’s rooks; if now 38…Rxc4, then 39. Rh4+ Kg8 [Kg7 40. Qh6+ Kg8 41. Qh8 mate] 40. Qxb8+ Qf8 41. Rh8+! Kxh8 42. Qxf8+ Kh7 43. Qf7+ cleans house) Rxb2+ 39. Ka1 Rxc4 (the delayed capture does not change matters) 40. Rh4+ Kg8 41. Qd8+ Qf8 (Kg7 42. Rg4+ Kh7 43. Qh4+ Qh5 44. Qxh5 mate) 42. Rg4+ Kf7 43. Qd7+ Qe7 44. Rf4+ Kg6 45. Qxe6, winning.

Jonny has a few spite checks, but the inevitable end comes on 50. Qf6+ Kh5 51. Rh4 mate.

California chess officials last month organized a Category 11 memorial tournament to honor longtime local GM Eduard Gufeld, who died earlier this year. Gufeld, a prolific writer and trainer, would have been happy with the result: Three American IMs in the 10-player field earned grandmaster norms, including a third and final qualifying norm for rising star Varuzhan Akobian.

Akobian, Jesse Kraai and Melikset Khachiyan tied for first with 61/2-21/2 scores, with all three going undefeated in the event.

Armenian GM Arsen Yegiazarian finished a half-point out of the money but did get the tournament off to a flying start with a stinging win over Mongolian GM Dashzeveg Sharavdorj. In a French Tarrasch, Black proves a little too casual with his uncastled king, and White makes him pay.

While much of the opening battle centers around White’s stronghold on e5, Sharavdorj with 13…g5 14. Bg3 h5?! embarks on a premature flank attack with his own king still stuck in the center. Already after 15. Nxg5 Ndxe5 16. Nd4, pawn-hunting with 16…Qxb2? would be punished by 17. Nb5 Kf8 (0-0? 18. Bh7+ Kh8 19. Qxh5 is overwhelming) 18. Re2 Qxa1 19. Qxa1 Nxd3 20. Nc7 Rb8 21. Bd6+ Kg8 22. Nxd5 Ra8 23. Qd1 trapping the knight.

Black may have thought he would move past the worst of it on 18. Qxd3 Qxd4?! (Bxd4 19. Qf5 Rf8 20. Qxd5 is marginally better, while 18…Bd7 19. Be5 Bxe5 20. dxe5 Bb5 21. Qf3 is very agreeable for White) 19. Qb5+ Bd7 (see diagram; 19…Ke7 is feistier, but White has 20. Rac1 a6 21. Qb3, with strong pressure; e.g. 21…Rd8 22. Rc7+ Rd7 23. Qf3 Qf6 24. Qxd5), preparing to jettison the b-pawn to create a defensive shell.

But Yegiazarian counters with the startling 20. Nxe6!!, busting open the e-file and exploding the Black fortress.

Hopeless now is 20…fxe6 (Bxb5 21. Nxd4+ Kd7 22. Nxb5 picks off a piece) 21. Rxe6+ Kf8 (Kd8 22. Rd6 Kc8 23. Qxd7+ Kb8 24. Qd8+! Rxd8 25. Rxd8 mate) 22. Qxd7 Kg8 23. Rd6 Qxb2 24. Qe6+ Kh7 (Kf8 25. Rd7! Qxa1+ 26. Kh2 Qf6 27. Bd6+ Qe7 28. Bxe7+ Ke8 29. Bb4 mate) 25. Qf5+ Kg8 26. Qxd5+ Kh7 27. Rd1, with a decisive edge. Sharavdorj resigned.

IGCA World Computer Chess Championships, Graz, Austria, November 2003

Shredder Jonny 2.51

1. e4 c5 27. Qf6 Qh7

2. Nf3 e6 28. Rd7 Ng6

3. d4 cxd4 29. Rxb7 Qg7

4. Nxd4 Nf6 30. Qd6+ Kg8

5. Nc3 d6 31. Rxf7 Qxf7

6. Bg5 Be7 32. Rxg6+ Kh7

7. f4 0-0 33. Rg4 Rab8

8. Qf3 e5 34. Rh4+ Kg8

9. Nf5 Bxf5 35. Rg4+ Kh7

10. exf5 e4 36. Rh4+ Kg8

11. Qh3 h6 37. Rg4+ Kh7

12. Bh4 Qc7 38. Bc4 Rxb2+

13. g4 d5 39. Ka1 Rxc4

14. g5 hxg5 40. Rh4+ Kg8

15. fxg5 Nh5 41. Qd8+ Qf8

16. 0-0-0 Rc8 42. Rg4+ Kf7

17. Bg3 Nf4 43. Qd7+ Qe7

18. Bxf4 Qxf4+ 44. Rf4+ Kg6

19. Kb1 Bxg5 45. Qxe7 Rxa2+

20. f6 Nc6 46. Kxa2 Ra4+

21. fxg7 Kxg7 47. Kb3 Rb4+

22. Be2 d4 48. Kxb4 a5+

23. Rhf1 Qh4 49. Kxc3 a4

24. Qf5 dxc3 50. Qf6+ Kh5

25. Rg1 Kf8 51. Rh4 mate

26. Rxg5 Ne7

Eduard Gufeld Memorial International, Burbank, Calif., November 2003

Yegiazarian Sharavdorj

1. d4 e6 11. Re1 Bg7

2. e4 d5 12. Bf4 h6

3. Nd2 c5 13. h3 g5

4. Ngf3 Nf6 14. Bg3 h5

5. e5 Nfd7 15. Nxg5 Ndxe5

6. c3 Nc6 16. Nd4 Nxd4

7. Bd3 Qb6 17. cxd4 Nxd3

8. 0-0 g6 18. Qxd3 Qxd4

9. dxc5 Nxc5 19. Qb5+ Bd7

10. Nb3 Nd7 20. Nxe6 Black


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

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