18 MARCH 1989, Page 49


Computer slayer

Raymond Keene

Grandmasters are coming under in- creasing siege from chess computers. Hans Berliner, the guru of computer chess in the US, is on record as predicting that within four years computers will be able to outplay the human world champion. The win by Deep Thought against Bent Larsen in America last year fuels such fears.

Nevertheless, succour is perhaps at hand. Professor Donald Michie, the UK's very own computer Magus, has pointed out that although the top computers now may well possess 'over 700,000 nodes of looka- head tree per second' they may still be vulnerable to 'computer-hostile modes of play, historically pioneered by Internation- al Master David Levy.' In a forthcoming academic paper Professor Michie states: `When pitted against a chess program Levy adopts a style which he has described as "do nothing — but do it very well." Although not effective against human mas- ters, it scores heavily against computer Opponents. By going for blocked positions devoid of tactical mobility he invites his computer opponent to reveal its thread- bare positional sense and lack of long- range strategic ideas. Sooner or later the machine drifts into some position which it Is incapable of recognising as strategically doomed. Before this happens, however, a stronger but less computer-wise player than Levy may yield to the temptation to try some tactics — and become lost in the calculational complexities.'

David Levy will have a chance to test his theories in a forthcoming match against Deep Thought which Professor Michie has set up. I am told that, faced by the world's leading computer-slayer, Deep Thought will need until September to prepare for the joust. This week's game shows, once again, how dangerous it is to face machines on their own territory, open tactical bat- tles. White is a commercial micro, on sale in the shops, not a big academic main- frame. Black is one of the members of the Olympic gold medal winning Hungarian women's team, yet she is roundly slaught- ered by the metal monster.

Novag Super Expert — Ildiko Madl: Speed Tournament, Aubervilliers 1988.

1 e4 c5 2 NO d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 Nc6 6 Bg5 e6 7 Qd2 a6 8 0-0-0 Bd7 9 f4 h6 10 Bh4 g5 Even Black's opening is a misguided choice against a computer. The Sicilian is a double- edged weapon, and what Black has ventured represents a singularly double-edged subset of it. Madl would have been better advised to select the strategic Caro-Kann. 11 fxg5 Ng4 12 hxg5 I now see little wrong with 13 Bxg5. 13 Bg3 Be7 14 Be2 Nge5 15 Kbl Nxf3 16 Bxf3 Ne5 17 Bxe5 dxe5 18 Qe2 Qb6 19 Bh5 Ba3? (Dia- gram) This sort of move, threatening mate, might unnerve a human opponent, but compu- ters have no nerves, and the Super Expert now finds a neat tactical sequence which not only nets a pawn but also exposes the Black king. Ultimately, Black's pawn on f7 is indefensible, so the best course would have been to sacrifice it at once with 19 . . . 0-0-0 20 Bxf7 Bc5 planning . . Bd4. If then 21Qc4 Kb8 22Rxd7 Rxd7 23Na4 Qd6! and the threat of . . . Qdl+ wins for Black. 20 Bxf7+! Ke7 If 20 . . . Kxt7 21 Rxd7+ Ke8 22 Na4 Qc6 23 Rd3 wins a pawn. 21 b3 Rad8 22 Rdfl Qd4 23 Qf3 Qc5 24 Qf6+ Kd6 25 Nd5 Rdf8 26 Rdl Kc6 27 Qg6 Iticf7 In a bad position Black makes a faulty combination. 28 Qxf7 exd5 29 Qf6+ Kc7 30 Qxe5+ Kb6 31 Qxh8 Bb4 32 Rxd5 Qc6 33 Qd8+ Black resigns.

I leave the final word to Professor Michie, apropos Dominic Lawson's earlier game against Deep Thought which I pub- lished in this column several weeks ago: `About a month after Deep Thought defe- ated Larsen, an informal exploration of Deep Thought's other parts revealed a surprising lack of resource in dealing with a player grounded in the Levy style. Domi- nic Lawson is a former British county player, informally assessed as being in the 2250 range. He was given an hour or so's briefing by Levy prior to engaging DT in a 30-minute game. Eventually Lawson got into severe time trouble and lost, but not before his do-nothing policy had elicited from Deep Thought sufficiently poor posi- tional play to place the program in extreme jeopardy'. Levy will have to remember his own advice when battle commences in September.