Friday, February 29, 2008

Deep Blue Lecture

Tonight I was lucky enough to find out about a lecture being given by Monty Newborn, the man who programmed the first class A level chess engine, Ostrich. Newborn himself claims to be an 1800 level player, so obviously when programming Ostrich he could tell if it had any strength. The topic was more or less a general overview of computer chess since the original idea that chess would be a good theatre to test for "intelligence." Let me say that this was an amazing lecture. I learned so much about how computers look for moves and just in general what the circumstances were that enabled them to get so strong. The core of the presentation was discussion of Deep Blue defeating Kasparov in 1997, a full six years before I started playing. I have heard the story many times before, but never from the perspective of an engine developer. The end of the lecture was on the future of computer chess, with a slide being shown that there are already at least ten engines over 2900 strength, and one that was even well over 3100. Yes, that's right, 3-1-0-0. Computers are getting stronger every day, and it seems as though every day there is a new world computer chess champion. I was able to briefly speak with Mr. Newborn after the lecture to let him know that his estimate of twenty class A level players attending the University of Iowa was a bit on the high side.

Friday, February 22, 2008

My Favorite Game

I decided that for my first game post, I will post my favorite game. It is a matchup between Jason Juett and myself in the 4th Ames Futurity B Group (Nov 2007).

1. Nf3

Played to avoid the usual mess we get into after 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. e5 Nfd7 6. Bxe7 Qxe7

1... d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. e3 e6 4. Bd3 Nbd7 5. Nbd2 c5 6. c3

And finally we see what white is trying to do. White is playing the Colle system, a very good tool for players of all levels to learn about all sorts of different themes of chess. The main idea for white is to try to prepare an e4 advance.

6... cxd4 7. exd4

Now the question is if black's control over the c-file will be able to counter white's control over the e-file, and especially the e5 square.

7... Bd6 8. O-O O-O 9. Re1 Qc7 10. Qe2 a6

To prepare ...b5 when black will put the bishop on b7 and play for ...e5

11. a4! b6

Black abandons the ...b5 idea and just decides to develop the bishop.

12. Ne5

A thematic move.

12... Re8

The idea here is to prepare ...e5 and to also allow the knight on d7 to go to f8. There is a saying that you can't be mated with a knight on f8.

13. Ndf3 Nf8

Of course, taking the knight would be bad since dxe5 would force the other knight to move back, allowing Bxh7+! winning. But now, the knight can actually be captured, though white would be better.

14. Bg5 N6d7

Threatens ...f6.

15. Nxd7 Qxd7 16. Ne5 Qc7

Again threatens ...f6.

17. Bd2 f6

This next sequence is forced.

18. Nf3 e5 19. dxe5 fxe5 20. h3

This is to stop Bxh2 after ...e4 when eventually the pin on the pawn is broken and the knight has to move.

20... e4 21. Nd4

On Bc2 black plays 21. ...exf3! 22. Qxe8 Bh2+ 23. Kh1 (same variation for 23. Kf1) fxg2+ Kxg2 Bxh3+!! with a very strong attack. And now we have reached the critical point in the game where black has to decide what to do.

21... Bh2+!

A very deep positional move. The point is that black wants to play Be5 and trade on d4 to give white an isolated pawn to play against. But with the king on h1, black can go into a better ending because the king is one more move away from the action, and with the king on f1, black has the idea 22. ...Be5 23. Bb1 Bxd4 24. cxd4 a5 with the threat of Ba6 pinning the queen to king, and if either moves, then black gains the diagonal with advantage.

22. Kh1 Be5

Do you see now how this is better than the position with the king on g1?

23. Bb1 Bxd4 24. cxd4 Ne6 25. Qe3 Rf8 26. Ba2

Black has to watch for Qxe4 tricks and guard d5.

26... Rf5!

The best way to defend the pawn. Bb7 lacks activity and Qd6 ties down the queen to the pawn. Note that 27. g4 is unplayable due to 27. ...Rf3! completely crushing white.
27. Rec1
Forces the black queen to a better square.

27... Qd6

Overprotecting the pawn on d5.

28. Rc2 Bb7

Overprotecting again since the bishop has nowhere else to go. With the impending white doubling, black does the same.

29. Rac1 Raf8

The white rooks are powerful, but have nothing to do on the c-file. look at the squares controlled by black on the c-file the only squares controlled by white on the c-file are c1, c2, and c3. Conversely, look at the f-file squares controlled by black, all of the squares from f8 to the pawn on f2 are under black's control. So which doubling was better?

30. Kg1

To protect f2 again. See how the Bh2+! move made all the difference here? The gained tempo helps the attack crash through.

30... Nf4

"Let them eat cake."

31. Qxe4

There really isn't much better for white. Remember that the d-pawn is pinned, so this queen is not hanging.
31... Nxh3+!!

The finishing blow more or less. The knight must be captured, opening up the king with rooks breathing down his neck. If Kh1 Nxf2+ wins, on Kf1 Rxf2 and it is just a matter of how long white wants to suffer.
32. gxh3 Rxf2

Threatens Qh2#.

33. Qe5 Qg6+

Threatens Qg2#.

34. Qg5 Qd3

Threatens Rf1+ with a mating attack.

35. Qe3 Rf1+ 36. Kg2

Rxf1 loses too much material to try.
36... Qg6+ 37. Qg5 Qe4+!

The only winning move. The reason is that this check cannot be blocked by the queen.

38. Kg3 R8f3+ 39. Kh2 R3f2+ 40. Kg3 Rg2# 0-1
A great game by both sides, decided by subtle moves.

Getting Started

Hello everyone, my name is Jeremy and I am a chessoholic. Can't get enough of that chessohol. This is going to be my personal blog of everything that interests me chess-wise. Currently, I am rated 1930 USCF and 1989 FIDE. To achieve the rank of FM (FIDE Master), I am going to need to raise my FIDE rating to 2300. Unfortunately, that is going to be quite a trial, an ordeal if you will. So feel free to come with me on this journey, experiencing my games, suffering my defeats, and ultimately, hopefully, sharing in my triumphs. I am going to try to post on this blog every few days about something, anything that captures my interest. Feel free to leave me any questions and I will try my best to appease the fans.

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