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Kramnik vs. DF'06

  Kramnik versus "Deep Fritz" II ?  

I have heard rumors of this for some time now, I have even seen a few articles about it. But for the most part, I have refused to believe it. (Remember all the times that FIDE promised us a <<Kasparov vs. Ponomariov>> or a <<Kasparov vs. Kasimdzhanov>> match?) So ... for the most part ... I simply ignored the reports. 

Yet there comes a point when not even the most cautious skeptic can continue to remain oblivious to the events that are unfolding around him. 

   'The Chess Journalist' 
  (The official publication of the body known as "The Chess Journalists of America.") 

  Volume XXXV, No. IConsecutive No. 119March, 2006.  (News item, see page # 11.) 


 << Kramnik - Deep Fritz Match >> 

   << Vladimir Kramnik will play the ChessBase computer program Deep Fritz in a six-game match from November 25th to December 5th in the German's Art and Exhibition Hall in Bonn. Kramnik stands to win a prize of $1 Million (dollars?) for a win in the match, doubling his starting fee.

   Asked how he estimates his chances, Kramnik reacted cautiously: "Fritz examines millions of moves per second. It is extraordinarily difficult to play against such a calculating monster. Right from the start you are walking on a very narrow ridge, and you know that any inattentiveness will be your downfall. It is a scientific experiment and I will have to fight very hard for my chance." The WCC is being organized by Universal Event Promotion, (UEP); in cooperation with the Art and Exhibition Hall.  

Information at >>  Also see here. (TWIC also has a report announcing the match.) 

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New chess duel Man vs Machine

01.03.2006  At the end of November this year classical chess world champion Vladimir Kramnik will take up the challenge of facing a computer program in a six-game match, to be held in the very prestigious Art and Exhibition Hall in Bonn, Germany. Kramnik stands to win one million US dollars if he beats the opponent, Deep Fritz. Press release.

And although I can now say that these are not simply rumors, I still do not have full confidence that such a match will take place. (Kramnik has had various problems over the last year or so, see the story and link just below.) 

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  •  What if Kramnik's health takes a sudden turn for the worse? (As it has in the past?)  

  •  What if the organizer has a sudden change of heart? (This has {also} occurred in the past.) 

  •  What if some other factor ... such as the one that delayed the first Kramnik-DF match ... were to arise?
     (See the second image/story ... in the inset, just above.)  

Yet I cannot help but smile, when I think about (the possibility of) another "Man vs. Machine" match, and the publicity and attention that such an event will inevitably generate in the news media.  - A.J. Goldsby I  {March 26th, 2006.} 

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  The games of the match  

 (The final TWIC report.) 

In  GAME ONE,  Kramnik played well, (on the Black side of a Catalan); and possibly had a won game. But his advantage slowly evaporated, and eventually Kramnik had to settle for a draw. [The CB report of the round, this article has full annotations.]  

In  GAME TWO,  Kramnik played the Black side of the Queen's Gambit Accepted. I watched part of this game on-line, it was an EXTREMELY complex affair, in the end, Kramnik blundered horribly ... and allowed a mate in one.  [The CB report.]  

In  GAME THREE,  Kramnik was White and transposed into a Catalan by playing 1.d4 Nf6; 2.c4 e6; 3.g3. Early on, I thought that play clearly favored Kramnik. The computer did not castle until move 19. Kramnik was ahead a pawn, it would have been easy to assume that White was winning easily. However, after a few inaccurate moves by White, and then one really bad play by White, suddenly it was White who was in trouble. (I followed this game briefly on the Internet, all the pundits and kibitzers on one server were predicting an easy win for the computer.) However, Kramnik - still ahead a Pawn, sacked the exchange to force an obvious and blatantly theoretically drawn endgame.  [The CB report.]  

In  GAME FOUR,  Kramnik played the Black side of a Petroff Defense, (which is known as the Russian variation in Europe). The computer avoided the main lines with 3.NxP/e5, instead choosing 3.d4, Kramnik played this one rather badly - at one point I thought that the computer had missed a clear win. However, once more Kramnik showed why he is one of the greatest defenders of all time. He simplified, and set up a fortress through which the computer could not penetrate.  [The CB report.]  

In  GAME FIVE,  Kramnik allowed the computer a true Nimzo-Indian ... something I thought was an error in strategy. (Often times, piece play takes precedence over everything else, and the computer's greatest strength is tactics.) The game followed a fairly well-known theoretical path, but Kramnik diverged on move 17 by boldly pushing his RP forward two squares. (A move that appeared to be a gross violation of general principles, I might add.) This was perhaps the most interesting and forceful game of the match, the tactics became more and more intense. The end of the game featured a draw by Mexican Stand-Off, neither side could afford to vary ... both parties were being threatened by death, mutilation and checkmate ... the threat of mutual annihilation caused both 'players' to smoke the peace pipe.  [The CB report.]  

In  GAME SIX,  Kramnik - perhaps desperate for a win - varied form his earlier match strategy of closed positions and classical openings, and decided to meet the machine's KP opening, (1.e4); with the Sicilian, (1...c5). This was probably a bad decision, Kramnik is good enough to play this active (but risky) defence against any human, but it was not what he excels at. Here, Vladimir Kramnik was finally made to look mortal, the box pushed him around, made threats, picked off a Pawn or two, and then pounded him into submission.  [The ChessBase report.]  

  Final Observations  

Many will claim that this was a disaster for the humans ... I don't see it that way. 

  •   Kramnik played very strong chess, the average GM would have probably lost all of his games. 

In fact, Kramnik played heroically. Not only did he play well at the board, he did not ever lose his composure away from board. In a couple of the games, he looked to be clearly outplaying the monstrous machine, but you MUST have perfect tactics to bring home the point!!! All-in-all, Kramnik earned my respect for his fine play and his behavior as a cultured gentleman. 

In the end, I think that this event was an all-round success for chess. We did not learn anything, a human can no more beat a machine in a game of chess than I can beat a motorcycle in a 1/4 mile sprint. The loss by the human race can be endured, if I want revenge, I can take an old PC out into the parking lot and destroy it with a sledge-hammer. (The funny thing is that the box won't know or care ... what is happening to it ... which kinda takes the fun out of such an action, anyway.) 

What is NOT to be underestimated is the amount of publicity that was generated ... it was a HUGE media event! (It would take millions of dollars to buy such coverage for our royal game.)  

On behalf of everyone who plays chess, I would like to thank V. Kramnik, ChessBase, the sponsors, and all the news correspondents who covered this match.  


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  This page was created in March, 2006.  This page was last updated on 06/11/07 .

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