Chess: Chip off the old block

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The Independent Culture
CARBON-BASED life forms can still outperform their silicon rivals at the highest level, but the average silicon brain seems better than its human counterpart. That is the tentative conclusion reached after the Aegon tournament in the Netherlands, where 32 computers fought a six- round battle with 32 humans.

With John Nunn and David Bronstein (both believed to be human) sharing first place, and only one machine among the top five, the mechanical beasts seemed to be tamed, but the overall result was a 98 1/2-93 1/2 win for the computers, the first time they have outscored humans in this annual contest.

The following game is a hilarious example of machine-think being baffled by human ingenuity. White's opening, a wild pawn sacrifice, leads to just the sort of wild tactics one is told to avoid against computers, and by move nine he seemed to be suffering for it. With 10. d6] White made the best of a dubious position, sacrificing material to create permanent cramp in Black's game.

The subsequent meanderings of Black's queen were rather planless, and were punished with a fine combination beginning with 17. Bxc5. After 21. Bc6+ Black was in trouble. 21 . . . Kd8 would lose to 22. Ng5. The machine was reduced to jettisoning material to avoid mate, but its sacrifices only delayed the end.

Somehow the machine never seemed to understand what was going on at all in this game.

----------------------------------------------------------------- White: Munninghoff Black: Saitek Risc ----------------------------------------------------------------- 1 d4 f5 17 Bxc5 Rc8 2 g4 fg4 18 b4 b6 3 e4 d5 19 Nd4 bxc5 4 e5 Bf5 20 b5 Qxa2 5 Bg2 e6 21 Bc6+ Rxc6 6 h3 gxh3 22 bxc6+ Kd8 7 Nxh3 c5 23 c7+ Kc8 8 c4 Nc6 24 Nxf5 Bxd6 9 cxd5 Nxd4 25 Nxd6+ Kxc7 10 d6 Nc2+ 26 Nf7 Nh6 11 Kf1 Qd7 27 Nxh8 Nf5 12 Na3 Nxa1 28 Nf4 Qc4 13 Be3 Nc2 29 Ng2 h6 14 Nxc2 Qa4 30 Nf7 Qd4 15 b3 Qa6+ 31 Qxd4 1-0 16 Kg1 Kd7 -----------------------------------------------------------------