ETCETERA: CHESS

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The Independent Culture
Some advice on tactical weapons in a technological battlefield.

The human race should hang its heads in shame. At last week's Aegon tournament in the Hague, a motley assortment of 48 computer programs soundly trounced a similar number of men, women and children. While heroes of past campaigns - men of the calibre of Dr John Nunn and Professor David Bronstein - were forced to strike their flags at the mechanical onslaught, it took a slip of a girl, Miss Zsofia Polgar, to show them how it should be done.

White: Zsofia Polgar

Black: Mephisto Genius 68030

1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.g3

A sensible choice of opening, inviting a contest of strategic manoeuvring rather than the hand-to-hand fighting of a Ruy Lopez or somesuch.

3...d5 4.exd5 Nxd5 5.Bg2 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bd6 7.Ne2 0-0 8.0-0 Nc6 9.d3 Qe7 10.Rb1 Bc5 11.Kh1 Rd8

It is remarkable how, despite the apparent openness of the game, all Black's men either point into empty spaces or bite on granite. That's just the type of position in which computers find it hard to conduct a coherent campaign.

12.f4 Bg4 13.Qe1 Rab8?

Artificial stupidity indeed! Nay, worse! Allowing White's reply is tantamount to machine mindlessness. He had to play 13...exf4 14.Nxf4 Qxe1 15.Rxe1 Bb6.

14.f5! f6

Force, in view of the potential disruption f6 by White would cause. But Black is now strategically lost.

15.h3 Bh5 16.g4 Bf7 17.a4 Ba2 18.Ra1 Bd5 19.Bxd5+ Rxd5 20.Ng3

The plan is simple: Ne4, g5, Qh4, rooks to the g-file and a mating attack. Black has no counterplay whatsoever.

20...Rbd8 21.Ne4 R5d7 22.g5 Qf8 23.Qh4 Be7 24.g6 h6 (see diagram) 25.Bxh6!

Bravo! This and the following move open the necessary lines for White's rooks.

25...gxh6 26.g7! Kxg7 27.Rg1+ Kh7 28.Rg6 a6

Black can only wait for his, or its, execution.

29.Rag1 a5 30.Qg4! Kh8

With the bishop tied to protecting f6, this is the only defence to the threat of Rg7+ and Qg6.

31.Qh5! Kh7 32.Rg4! resigns

33.Rh4 follows and Black has had his chips.

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