Chess

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The Independent Culture
When Mr Garry Kasparov was defeated by a supercharged calculating machine called Deep Blue earlier this year, much credit was given to grandmaster Joel Benjamin, who had apparently been oiling its cogs. Last week, Mr Benjamin won the US Championship, in a manner that made it clear he also had learnt a thing or two from his mechanical prodigy.

White: Joel Benjamin

Black: Larry Christiansen

First game, US Championship Final, 1997

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 Bf5 5.cxd5 cxd5 6.Qb3

The Slave Defence, with 2...c6, has the merit over 2...e6 of not trapping the bishop behind the pawns. Yet there are also disadvantages in letting the bishop wander from his natural Q-side diocese.

6...Qc8 7.Bd2 Nc6 8.Bb5 e6

There is much to be said for 8...Bd7 here.

9.0-0 Bd6 10.Bb4! Qc7 11.Qa3 Bxb4 12.Qxb4 Qe7 13.Bxc6+ bxc6 14.Qxe7+ Kxe7 15.Ne5 Rfc8 16.Rc1 Nd7 (See diagram)

In formulating his development plan with 8...e6, this was the move Black had relied upon. Now 17.Nxc6+ Kd6 leaves the knight pinned and trapped. But, just as any tactical adventures are risky against computers, they are also unwise against the men who program them.

17.Nxc6+! Kd6 18.Na3!

Suddenly Black realises that 18...Rxc6 19.Nb5+ will cost him his rook.

18...a6 19.Na5 Rab8 20.Nb3 Rxc1+ 21. Rxc1 a5?

Eager to get back into the game, Black commits another tactical error.

22.Nxa5!

Even the cheapest of calculating machines would have found this one. 22... Rxb2 loses to 23.N3c4+ bxc4 24.Nxc4+.

22...g5 23.Rc3 g4 24.Rb3 Ra8 25.Nb5+ Ke7 26.Ra3 Kf6

If Black's rook can find an open file, he might yet fight back.

27.Nc6 Rc8 28.Rc3 Ra8 29.a3 h5 30.b3 h4

Black could resign with a clear conscience, but perhaps he was short of time and these pawns were near the clock.

31.a4 h3 32.Nd6 Bg6 33.g3 Ra6 34.a5 Nb6 35.Ne8+ Kg5 36.Nc7 Nc4 37.Nxa6 Nd2 38.Ne5 f6 39.Nxg6 Black resigned.

And not a moment too soon.

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