CHESS

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The Independent Culture
Much has been made of the occasional success of computers at the chess board. Through tedious calculation they have, I suppose, been able to demonstrate a sort of uninspired competence. Yet playing such mechanical marvels has all the allure of conducting an argument with a large dictionary. Most grand masters have belatedly realised that machines can be beaten simply by avoiding all complication. And that is why we should show special respect for David Bronstein who, at 70, still delights in showing that computer chips can also be fried by tactical means.

White: David Bronstein

Black: XXXX II

Aegon "Man v Machine", 1997

1.e4 e6 2.Qe2 Ne7 3.Nf3 d5 4.c3 c5 5.g3 Nbc6 6.Bg2 g6 7.0-0 Bg7 8.e5 h6

The choice of this move suggests that the machine is still following its opening book. Black threatens 9...Qc7 10.Bf4 g5.

9.h4 Qc7 10.Re1 Nd4 11.Nxd4 cxd4 12.c3!

White lays the bait ...

12...Nc6 13.f4 0-0 14.Nd2 dxc3 15.bxc3 Qa5

16.Nf3 Qxc3 17.Bb2 Qa5 18.a4

White will seize the a3-f8 diagonal, then attack on the other wing with h5 - all too deep for a machine to grasp.

18...b5 19.axb5 Qxb5 20.Ba3 Qb6+ 21.Kh2 Re8 22.Rab1 Qc7 23.Rec1 a5

The computer knows only that it is a pawn ahead. Bronstein knows more.

24.h5 gxh5 25.Bd6 Qd7 26.Rb6 Ne7 27.d4 Nf5 28.Ba3 h4 29.g4 Qd8 (see diagram)

Black attacks the rook, expecting to be able to retreat his knight to e7 next move, but a rude shock is in store.

30.gxf5! Qxb6 31.f6 Ba6 32.Qf2 Qb3 33.Bc5 Bh8

The moment of truth can be delayed no longer. After 33...Bf8 34.Qxh4 Black would have been quickly mated. But on h8 the bishop has no future at all.

34.Qxh4 Bd3 35.Qxh6 Bg6

The bishop has plugged the gaping g-file as best it can, but the end is near.

36.Nh4 Qd3 37.Rc3! Ra7

The mechanical equivalent of a nervous breakdown. 37...Qxc3 38.Nxg6 or 37...Qb1 38.Rh3 would have led to quick mates. After 37...Ra7, however, the computer's programmer pulled its plug.

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