CHESS

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The Independent Culture
Much has been written in praise of the "almost human" play of Deep Blue, yet its victory over Mr Garry Kasparov demonstrated to me nothing more than the ability of a human to play like a machine when confronted with the unexpected.

White: Deep Blue

Black: Garry Kasparov

Game Two, New York 1997

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 h6

A misguided attempt to lead the game into a blocked position which he believes the machine will fail to understand.

10.d4 Re8 11.Nbd2 Bf8 12.Nf1 Bd7 13.Ng3 Na5 14.Bc2 c5 15.b3 Nc6 16.d5 Ne7

Black has obtained just the uninspiring position he was looking for.

17.Be3 Ng6 18.Qd2 Nh7 19.a4 Nh4 20.Nxh4 Qxh4 21.Qe2

Conventional wisdom maintains that computers are inept in positions with the pawns locked together, yet this isn't the case. They are weak only when there is nothing happening. Here there is activity on the Q-side, and the blocked centre simply makes it easier for Deep Blue to concentrate on the region of the board that matters.

21...Qd8 22.b4 Qc7 23.Rec1 c4

White's previous move put him in mortal fear of a quick c4 to open the position.

24.Ra3 Rec8 25.Rca1 Qd8 26.f4! Nf6 27.fxe5 dxe5 28.Qf1 Ne8 29.Qf2 Nd6 30.Bb6 Qe8 31.R3a2 Be7 32.Bc5 Bf8

Oh dear. Is this really the best a human mind can come up with?

33.Nf5! Bxf5 34.exf5 f6 35.Bxd6 Bxd6

Now White can play 36.Qb6, or 36.axb5 axb6 37.Qb6 with a big advantage. Instead Deep Blue plays a line that has the effect of demoralising its opponent.

36.axb5 axb5 37.Be4(!) Rxa2 38.Qxa2 Qd7 39.Qa7 Rc7 40.Qb6 Rb7 41.Ra8+ Kf7 42.Qa6 Qc7 43.Qc6 Qb6+ 44.Kf1 Rb8 45.Ra6 resigns (See diagram.)

Black is hopelessly placed after 45...Qxc6 46.dxc6 Rc8 47.Ra7+ Rc7 (Bc7 loses to Bd5+ and Be6) 48.Ra5. He could, of course, have drawn with 45...Qe3! 46.Qxd6 Re8! when his queen regains the bishop or delivers perpetual check, but he was too demoralised to spot it.

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