The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

A chess story, With the curse of Vladmir Kramnik

Before I played lots of games, I played Chess. Through intense effort, I achieved … tournament mediocrity. But I studied the game. I once spent dozens of hours (over the course of several weeks) looking into a one variant of the Sicilian Poisoned Pawn. In this variant, white checks with a bishop that can be captured by a pawn. If the bishop is taken, white gets a powerful attack. Quite complex. Beyond my capabilities to prove, in any case. But I knew a fair amount of details.

A few months later in a tournament I sprung this on an expert. After playing my move, I got a drink. He sat and stared. And stared. Then he stared some more.

When people noticed that the small-fish had unleashed a TN, lots of players came over to check it out. My opponent took about 75 minutes to make his next move. He declined the sacrifice. After another ten moves we were in a dead drawn position, and the expert had 5 minutes left to make twenty moves.

So I played quickly (to keep him from thinking on my time) and missed a mate in one. Oops.

Why did I think of this just now? Why the recent match between world champion Kramnik and Deep Fritz.

After smoothly gaining the advantage Kramnik continued to play quickly, perhaps a little too quickly….

Kramnik played the move 34…Qe3 calmly, stood up, picked up his cup and was about to leave the stage to go to his rest room. At least one audio commentator also noticed nothing, while Fritz operator Mathias Feist kept glancing from the board to the screen and back, hardly able to believe that he had input the correct move. Fritz was displaying mate in one, and when Mathias executed it on the board Kramnik briefly grasped his forehead, took a seat to sign the score sheet and left for the press conference, which he dutifully attended.

One of the most amazing blunders ever. We’ve all been there.

World Class Blunder

34…Kg8 leads to a draw. In fact, the chessbase article has a screen capture of (Fritz’s) analysis during the game where it’s just waiting to force the draw after Kg8.

An interesting match, if only from a rules perspective. For fairness, while Fritz is “in book” (working with opening positions it knows and has studied) Kramnik is allowed to look at Fritz’s book tree during the game. So he knows all the possible replies to each of his moves. [Once Fritz is out of book, the screen is turned so that only the operator can see it.] I haven’t seen the rationale, but suspect its related to the practice of giving the machine every tournament game its opponent has played.


Written by taogaming

November 29, 2006 at 3:05 pm

Posted in Ramblings

Tagged with ,

One Response

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  1. This reminds me of an old science fiction story. Supposedly the two players are playing for the fate of the human race, which the narrator had been working toward by purposefully losing a series of matches for lesser stakes. He’s got it all set up and gets taken by a fool’s mate.


    November 29, 2006 at 7:05 pm

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