Kasparov & Deep Junior fight to 3-3 draw!

The 1st "Man vs. Machine" World Championship came to a end on yesterday and ended in a 3-3 draw. GM Garry Kasparov, the world's #1 player for the last 18 years took on Deep Junior, the world's strongest chess program for personal computers. The silicon behemoth was built by Israeli programmers, Amir Ban and Shay Bushinsky. They received support from Israeli Grandmaster GM Boris Alterman. The six-match was called by GMs Maurice Ashley and Yasser Seirawan who also commentated the Kasparov-Deep Blue match. The game featured classic time controls (seven hours total). Kasparov started strong by crushing Deep Junior in Game 1 and was perhaps a move or two from winning Game 2 before making an error. That game ended in a draw and after Kasparov blundered horribly in Game 3 to tie the match score, the other games were drawn. Kasparov had chances to win in Games 5 and 6, but he played cautiously and the match ended in a draw.

GM Garry Kasparov

GM Garry Kasparov

Game 1 (26 January 2003)

Everyone in the chess world wondered what approach Kasparov would take against Deep Junior.  GM Vladimir Kramnik's "anti-computer" style almost worked until he tried to get tactical.  However, Kasparov went right after Deep Junior with the bold "Shabalov-Shirov" gambit 7.g4!? Kasparov's "manhandled" the computer in a fine display of power and surgical technique. Kasparov served up home cooking on the board with 13.d5! threatening a crushing bind on the white squares. Deep Junior decided  to eliminate the light-squared bishop, but allowed a towering knight on d6. Eventually Deep Junior had to sacrifice an exchange, Kasparov tightened the screws and with 27.Rc7 and the Deep Junior team resigned.

Game: Kasparov 1 - Deep Junior 0 (ChessBase team)
Score: Kasparov 1 - Deep Junior 0

Game 2 (28 January 2003)

Coming off of a convincing win, perhaps it's a good idea to play conservative with the black pieces, but thus far, Kasparov has violated all the anti-computer strategies. With the Najdorf usually "on automatic," Kasparov played a sharp line of the Paulsen after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Bd3 Bc5!?

Junior met this with 6.Nb3 Ba7 7.c4!? instead of the popular 7.Qe2 or 7.Nc3. White generally trades dark-squared bishops in this line and having already 7.c4!? this becomes more urgent.  Kasparov developed a nice kingside initiative and then reeled off an interesting exchange sacrifice with 22axb3!? 23.Rxa7 bxc2 24.Rc1 e4! with counterplay.

White continued with 25.Rxc2 and on impulse, Kasparov responded with 25Qa1+?! and later stated that 25f4! may have provided chances for a win. However, he later added that even after 25f4, white could play 26.h3 and have drawing chances. White found the only move to save the game with 27.Ra8! setting up the drawing sequence 27e3 28.fxe3 fxe3 29.Qxf8+! Kxf8 30.Rc7+.

Game start 5 back 1 back 1 forward 5 forward Game end flip board autoplay


Game: Deep Junior - Kasparov - (ChessBase team)
Score: Kasparov 1 - Deep Junior

Game 3 (30 January 2003)

Kasparov continues to go blow-for-blow in his match with the silicon beast. With Kasparov's cunning change of move order, Deep Junior found itself in the same inferior position from Game 1. This time Junior bit the bait and landed into trouble after 10.g4!? Nxg4 11.Rg1 Ndf6 12.h3 Nh6 13.e4! Kasparov continued to open lines and charged on with 19.0-0-0 and prepared to assault black's damaged kingside. The game began to peter out after Junior played flawless defense, so Kasparov decided to grab the draw, but he erred with 32.Rh5? (32.Ng6+ drew  immediately). After 32Nxd4! Kasparov saw that he would be mated after 33.Ng6+ Kg8 34.Ne7+ Kf8 35.Rxh7 Nb3+! so he played 33.Nd5 and resigned after 33Qg7 34.Qxd4 Rxd5.

Game: Kasparov 0 - Deep Junior 1
Score: Kasparov 1  - Deep Junior 1

GMs Maurice Ashley and Yasser Seirawan provide commentary on  Game 3.

GMs Maurice Ashley and Yasser Seirawan provide commentary on  Game 3. Photo courtesy of Chessbase.com.

Game 4 (2 February 2003)

This was perhaps the most intriguing battle in the match thus far.  A classical battle ensued after Kasparov assumed the solid, but flexible "hedgehog" setup. Many players on the ICC kept complaining about black's passivity, but what makes the hedgehog such a dangerous weapon is that white finds it tempting to attack only to overextend and watch grimly as black's pieces spring to life with a vengeance after a move like d5!, or b5! In fact, commentator GM John Fedorowicz stated that he may have opted for such move earlier.

In the diagrammed position, black usually employs ideas such as Qb8, Qa8, and d5 and sometimes, Qb8, Bd8, Bc7. In addition there is also the possibility of playing Bf8, g6, Bg7.  The placement of black  rooks on c8 and e8 is key since after moves like Bf8 and d5, the c- and e-files will open quickly. Kasparov played 19Qb8 in the diagrammed position and continued the hedgehog dance.

Kasparov unveils the solid and flexible hedgehog. The following formation occurred after 18Ned7.

Kasparov unveils the solid and flexible hedgehog." The following formation occurred after 18Ned7.

Part of the maneuvering commonly seen is the movement of the knights. One viewer pointed out  in one point of the game that the knights had accounted for 30% of the game's moves!  After dancing the "knight's tango" for the better part of the middle game, white launched a queenside initiative with 24.a5 axb5 25.b5!? Bb7 26.b6.  Black continued to probe with the knights  and the game picked up steam after 38.c5!?

Fedorowicz was critical of this move, but the game start to look more and more drawish. Kasparov lashed out one more time with 42d5 and after massive exchanges, Deep Junior grabbed a slight advantage with 47.Qa7. Kasparov then jettisoned a pawn to achieve a technical draw. Great game filled with tension, strategic maneuvering, and for most of the middlegame, neither side crossed the 5th rank.

Game: Deep Junior - Kasparov
Score: Kasparov 2 - Deep Junior 2

GM Garry Kasparov preparing to face off against Deep Junior in Game 5. Photo by John Henderson.

GM Garry Kasparov preparing to face off against Deep Junior in Game 5. Photo by John Henderson.

Game 5 (5 February 2003)

Not a crowd favorite. Kasparov has gone from the indomitable player who routinely grinds all human opposition to sawdust to a mortal of a chess player groveling for draws. Game 5 started as a Nimzo-Indian when Deep Junior attempted an unsound piece sacrifice with 10Bxh2+?! 11.Kxh2 Ng5+ 12.Kg3 (12.Kg1?? Qh4-+) 12Qg5. Commentators point out that this idea is simply refuted  after 13.f4 Qh5 14. Bd2 Qh2+ 15.Kg3 Qh4 and now 16.g3! instead the text 16.Bxh7+? The game ended in a three-fold repetition.

Clearly thousands of fans were disappointed at the quick draw, but was more disappointed at the 2847-rated champion's lack of drive to play for a win. In all fairness, the position was still tricky with lots of room for errors. Perhaps the champion has lost his "killer instinct" or is too fearful of dropping another match and risking his invincible persona. Certainly he will employ his dreaded Sicilian and will again attempt to trick the computer into the same type of positional battle occurring in Game 4. If the final game is a quick draw, rest assured that interest will plummet in these "Man vs. Machine" matches.

Game: Kasparov   - Deep Junior  
Score: Kasparov 2  - Deep Junior 2

Game 6 (7 February 2003)

With an estimated 200-300 million viewers watching this finale, pressure was said to have been so thick at the New York Athletic Club, you could cut it with a knife.  Game 6 of the highly-publicized match between world's #1 player Garry Kasparov and Deep Junior was aired on America's ESPN2 and was hosted live by Jeremy Schapp. Ashley and Seirawan once again provided enlightening move-by-move commentary in a game to decide the champion of the 1st "Man vs. Machine" World Championship.

In the first few moves of the game, Kasparov employed a "wrinkle" by playing 2d6 and going into the Najdorf Sicilian. Those who follow international chess will know that this is normal for Kasparov, but he has employed two different variations in Games 2 and 4 achieving very good positions. So the theoretical battle was on!

While Deep Junior has a massive database to draw from, it was again fooled into a tricky move order by the cunning Sicilian connoisseur.  Kasparov played 6e5!? instead of his characteristic 6e6  and Scheveningen setup. After white's passive, but solid 7.Be2, play followed with the sharp 7Be7!? (7Be6 is also playable) 8.Kh1?! (better is 8.Be3 and 9.f4). Because of white's last move, Kasparov took advantage with 8Bd7 9.Be3
Bc6! White played 10.Bf3 and was tricked into blocking the f-pawn thus stifling the usual play and making 8.Kh1 look silly.

The tension continued to build as is common in Sicilian battles. After 15.Rad1, GM Seirawan spotted a familiar theme in this unbalanced position the exchange sacrifice on c3. Seirawan's method was Rc7, Qa8, Rfc8, Rxc3. Two moves later after 16Qc7, GM Ashley suggested Qb8, Qa8, Rxc3.  What was certain was that this move represented the central idea for black.

After all the pieces were developed, both sides played a couple of waiting moves before Kasparov dived in with
19Qc4 offering a trade of queens. Deep Junior obliged and the game reached the diagrammed position after white 23.Nb3. Facial expressions revealed that Kasparov was double-checking his analysis. After his 15-minute think, he played the thematic 23Rxc3! which received roars and applause in the viewing room.

After Deep Juniors 23.Nb3?! Garry Kasparov played the thematic 23Rxc3! And was on top after 24.bxc3 Bxe4.

After Deep Junior's 23.Nb3?! Garry Kasparov played the thematic 23Rxc3! And was on top after 24.bxc3 Bxe4.

During the commentary both Ashley and Seirawan praised black's play and stated that Kasparov had definite winning chances. The mood swiftly changed when it was discovered that Kasparov had offered a draw after playing the move! Both commentators were at a loss to explain the gesture, but concluded that Kasparov had become "spooked" and feared losing despite being in a position not only rich in play, but favoring black.  The Deep Junior operators returned the draw offer after 28.f4 after which Kasparov accepted amidst boos from the viewing hall. Words associated with the result were "surprising," "disappointing," " dissatisfying," and "outrageous." Ironically, strong computer program Fritz 8 gave Kasparov a slight edge after 28f6.

Post-Match Analysis:

Visibly disappointed, both Ashley and Seirawan were at a loss why a draw was offered by Kasparov. They along with 200-300 million viewers would get their answer. When ESPN's
Jeremy Schapp asked the "why" question, the 39-year old player suddenly looked unlike the fierce competitor that has made him perhaps the greatest player in history. He stated that he had the memory of the first five games and feared making a single blunder. Amazing! 

He opined that in such complicated positions, one mistake can be fatal against a computer. Against  a human, it's a possibility to regain the mistake. Nevertheless, GM Ashley's question of why Kasparov would play such a thematic move only to offer draw remains an enigma.  Other moves certainly could've provided opportunities for Deep Junior to go wrong. In fact
Amir Ban made mention that GM Boris Alterman became insistent in accepting the draw because Junior was contemplating 29.a5?!  While Seirawan also expressed disappointment, he mentioned the type of pressure Kasparov was under given the symbolic importance of the match.

Kasparov stated that the development of Deep Junior was a "wonderful step" and that it had surpassed the capability of IBM's Deep Blue, the ill-fated program that defeated Kasparov in 1997.  Has the unceremonious ending tainted this debate? Time will tell.

Game: Deep Junior - Kasparov
Final Score: Kasparov 3 - Deep Junior 3

Reports by Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum