Today’s world champions use computers extensively. Kasparov uses one since the mid-Eighties and Anand since 1989. Chess is the only sport which can benefit from the growth in techonlogy to a greater degree since computer software can perform two things for it; play chess as well as store data.
The earliest thought of chess computers came in 1864 when Charles Babbage condidered the use of a computer. But there wasn’t any suitable electronic equipment available at that time to engineer the launch of a chess programme. In 1944 Konrad Zuse came up with the first chessplaying programme but it was considered very theoretical and the one developed in 1947 by English mathematician Alan Turning never took off.
It was Chaude Shannon’s paper in 1949 in the United States which became the basis for all subsequent programmes and the first computer to follow all the rules was made in 1958. The first computer which made a mark was Mac Hack in 1966 ia the United States. Since then, the progress was slow since it was funded by chess lovers and no governmental support was available in places where it was being developed.
The First World Computer Chess Championship at Stockholm opened up more avenues. It was won by Kaissa, a Soviet programme. The latest championship held at Hong Kong this Year was won by the German software programme ‘Fritz’.
In 1987 Kasparov wrote in his biography, “No computer can ever beat me.” In a blitz tournament at Munich last Year he tied for first with Fritz3 but lost the individual encounter with the machine. Last year, after being beaten by the software programme ‘Chess Genius’ in a London tournament he vowed for revenge and declared that he will not play
machines and humans in the same event. He beat that programme this year at Cologne in a separate match.
Kasparov’s reasoning why humans, at least till his generation, will be ahead of the computers is: “No machine can yet match the astonishing powers of pattern recognition in the human mind. Pattern recognition seems to be the key to a chess genius.” For the programmers, the pieces have units’that make them think, move and exchange. The value of pieces in pawn terms is knight 3, bishop 3.25, rook 5, queen 9. The value for the king which no one really knows is 3 while moving and 1,000 for exchanging, so that the software dosen’t exchange it for other material.
Chess playing computer usage will only increase since the game is likely to get shortened to fit in television slots in the future. The shorter the time, it’s more difficult for humans and the chances of overlooking tactics grow larger. After losing to a computer, Vladmir Kramnik a talented grandmaster said, “against computers you make only one mistake, the first one.”
The second variety of software is as useful as the chess playing variety. This one is a database which stores and retrieves games. Thousands of players have benefitted from this facility. Kasparov’s simultaneous results against eight Hamburg players improved after using Chess Base in January 1987 and he said in his autobiography Child of Change: “I regard thjs facility as the important development in chess research since printing.”
Players are going to enjoy chess more and search less clearly, while preparing for opponents. Chess will grow sharper and the domination of the Russions will come down crashing and see many players from other countries becoming world champions.
Grandmaster Roman Dzindzichashvili, second to Gata Kamsky in five of his matches said on Sunday that he has turned down an offer to be his trainer. Kamsky has to play Karpov for the FIDE championship, which is yet to take shape.
Dizindzichashvili, the 51-year old big-made Russian speaking Grandmaster first acted as his trainer in the Kramnik match here last
June and has done much of the spade work for Kamsky’s success in four of the five matches. Asked why he rejected working with Kamsky, he lifted his hand and acting as if cutting his neck, said “not with them.”
It is known that Rustam Kamsky, father of Gata, punched the other second GM Alexander Shabalov in India when they came for the Valery Salov match in February 1995. Kasparov had told Anand in New York that Vassily Ivanchuk was Kamsky’s newest second.
Those seeking a good counter attacking line against the king pawn have a good solution; the Sicilian Dragon. The instrument is not a master or a grandmaster but a world champion. Already having used this twice, Kasparov has poured new wine in this century-old bottle.
The last time it was ‘played’ in a big game was by Anatoly Karpov against Viktor Korchnoi in the world championship candidates finals at Moscow in 1974. Since then various players like Antony Miles, Gyula Sax brought in variations like the b4, h5 systems for Black in the early Eighties. Repeatedly slayed by all and sundry, the variation became a dying art until Tiviakov and Topalov resurrected it in the elite group.
As neither Kasparov nor his seconds play the Dragon, it has been a rough surprise to come up against, Kasparov must have had a session with either Sergey Tiviakov or other practitioners.
Many years ago, Anand opened a game with the queen pawn against IN N. Sudhakar Babu back in India. He said he was avoding the dragon. The dragon is a vicious opening like the very name it signifies.
If openings like the Sicilian Alapin 2.c3 or the Rossolimo became popular at one stage for white players, it wasn’t that there was power in these, but the players were clearly avoiding the Dragon.
The Dragon in chess is named after the powerful fianchettoed dark-coloured bishop of Black in the Sicilian defence usually placed in the 97 square.
The real test might not be over as Anand’s handling with white was first passive and in the second game little too original and harmless for Black. Nevertheless, two out of two with the Black pieces in the world championship with the Dragon variation is something difficult to pass up.