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THE tetchy and demoralised performance of Deep Blue towards the end of its match with Mr Kasparov is the sort of thing that gives silicon a bad name. Here, to restore the balance, is perhaps the finest game ever won by a machine.

White: QUEST

Black: John Nunn

Aegon "Man v Machine" 1995

1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 c6 4.Nf3 d5 5.h3 Nh6 6.Bf4 f6 7.Qd2 Nf7

Hiding behind a hedgehog-like shell of pawns is usually good policy against a computer.

8.0-0-0 0-0 9.Be3 a6 10.Be2 b5 11.Bd3

Silicon silliness knows not what to do.


Sadly neither does the carbon-based life form. It was time to cross the frontier with 11...b4 and a5 to follow. Black is not given another chance.

12.h4! Nd7 13.h5! g5 14.h6!

Extraordinary play from a mere number-cruncher. 14...Bxh6 would be met by 15.Rxh6! Nxh6 16.Nxg5!

14...Bh8 15.exd5 cxd5 (see diagram) 16.Nxd5!

16...exd5 now loses to 17.Bxh7+! Kxh7 18.Qd3+ with Qg6+ to follow when the king crawls back to g8. This is just the sort of tactical accident that can make a machine a dangerous opponent.

16...Bb7 17.Nc3 Nd6 18.Rh5!

Quite astounding! The machine prepares a decisive sacrifice on g5.

18...Rf7 19.Bxg5! Bxf3 20.gxf3 fxg5 21.Rxg5+ Kf8 22.Rdg1 Nf6 23.Ne4!

The cogs must have whirred this far and some way beyond when it decided on 18.Rh5. Black cannot maintain his defence of g8, after which the attack crashes home.

23...Ndxe4 24.fxe4 Qxd4 25.e5 Ke7

The knight dare not move for fear of a check on g8.

26.c3! Qb6 27.exf6+ Bxf6 28.Rg8 Rxg8 29.Rxg8 Bh4 30.f4 Bf2 31.Kc2 Qe3 32.Qd1! Qxf4 33.Bxb5! Bb6 34.Be8!

When the rook moves, the king will be hounded to death by checks beginning with Qd7+ and Qg7+.

Black resigned.