GM Garry Kasparov vs. X3D Fritz

The 2nd version of the "Man vs. Machine" match kicked off on November 11th with great fanfare. The carnival atmosphere at the New York City Athletic Club was described by X3D program manager John Fernandez, who has helped organize this event. GMs Maurice Ashley and Yasser Seirawan will handle the broadcast duties along with  Paul Hoffman. An earlier version of the X3D Fritz program called "Deep Fritz" held GM Vladimir Kramnik to a 4-4 draw in Bahrain.

This match will be more of a test of whether computers are edging closer to chess dominance more so than whether the world's top chess player can reclaim bragging rights for humanity. Does Kasparov take this as a serious match?
Mig Greengard of points out:

GM Garry Kasparov

GM Garry Kasparov

"He takes it very seriously. (Playing computers) is the definition of his era. It's what distinguishes the Kasparov era of chess. He's not in this for the paycheck. He really takes the 'defender-of-humanity' thing seriously."

Kasparov will be looking to overcome a disappointing result in January's 3-3 drawn match with Deep Junior. That game was highlighted by a last-round draw in which Kasparov accepted a draw in a potentially winning position. Will "Man byte Machine" in round two of this theme match, or will Machines take over in a "Terminator 3" scenario? Stay tuned! 

Game 1 (11 November 2003)

Game one started in a Slav variation of the Queen's Gambit and Kasparov trotted out the Shabalov-Shirov Gambit with 7.g4!? This was the same idea he used with great effect in the Deep Junior match, winning the 1st game in commanding fashion and getting a huge advantage in the 3rd game before losing.

As in the previously mentioned games, Kasparov built up an overwhelming opening advantage bolstered by a huge lead in development and black's centralized King. It looked like an early dinner for Kasparov and his team after 12Nxf2!? 13.Rdf1, but X3D Fritz played gritty chess and held the position together by a mere thread.

After 12Nxf2!?, Kasparov chose 13.Bb4 to confine the King as 13.Ne5!? Qg5! is uncomfortable. The game turned into a tactical mess after the next half-dozen moves as Kasparov netted the exchange after 19.c6 bxc6 20.Bxf8 Kxf8. After more exchanges, Kasparov allowed 31Bxa2 (diagram) hoping he would free his rooks.

On 32.Qxc6?? Kasparov would have to fight for a draw after 32Bb3! 33.Qc7
(33.Rd2?? Qa5!), so he played 32.Rxe4 after which black complicated matter with 32Qd3! The world's #1 player then buckled with 33.Rd4?! Commentator GM John Fedorowicz suggested 33.Qf5 with a safe advantage, but after the text, black played 33Qxe3+ 34.Rcd2 Qe1+ 35.Rd1 Qe3+ 36.R1d2 Qg1+ 37.Rd1, and a draw was agreed.

Game 1: Kasparov - X3D Fritz
Score: Kasparov - X3D Fritz

GM Garry Kasparov-X3D Fritz (after 31Bxa2)

GM Garry Kasparov-X3D Fritz
(after 31Bxa2)

Game 2 (13 November 2003)

The Agony of Defeat!!

Garry Kasparov dug himself into a big hole in the 2nd game of Man vs. Machine match following a remarkable blunder. After having reached a position rich with possibilities, the world's #1-rated player ignonimously dropped a crucial pawn and the wall came tumbling down on his position. He resigned only a few moves later. About 3000+ Internet Chess Club (ICC) spectators and 11,000 Chess.FM listeners followed the tense battle.

The game started as a Ruy Lopez as Kasparov did not play his customary 1c5.  The game entered the Berlin Defense instead of other exhaustive lines. The first critical decision was made by X3D to play 10.d5 and increase white's spatial advantage on the queenside. ESPN commentators questioned whether this was a good strategy since computers thrive in open positions.

After 16.Bb2, X3D appeared to bear down on Kasparov's e5-pawn with the idea of loosening the center by playing c4-c5 at some point. Of course on 17.exf5? gxf5, black would have strong initiative. Kasparov decided to gamble with 17 g5?! (Diagram #1). Seirawan pointed out that if  Kasparov played 17f4, then X3D would carry out his queenside onslaught with 18.c5 since the d5-pawn would be safe. In hindsight 17f4 may have been best.

Several moves later, Kasparov continued his march with 24g4?! and French Grandmaster
Joel Lautier claimed that "black was doing quite okay." After opening up the queenside, X3D made obvious tactical threats with 31.Qb6 and 32.Qb4. Kasparov easily parried the first threat with 32 Kh7, but after 32.Qb4, he blundered horribly with 33Rg7?? (Diagram #2) X3D quickly snapped off the e-pawn with 34.Rxe5!

Ashley exclaimed, "Kasparov is dead!"  Fans on the ICC were spitting out scores ranging from +2.50 to +3.50 from their chess programs. Shortly thereafter, a humiliated Kasparov resigned in disgust. Shellshocked at the blunder, Kasparov opined that he had outplayed X3D and was clearly better.  Over 3000 spectators at the ICC and over 11,000 listeners at Chess.FM witnessed the human debacle. Game 3 is set for Sunday with Kasparov playing the white pieces.

Game 2: X3D Fritz  1 - Kasparov 0
Score: Kasparov - X3D Fritz 1

Diagram #1 (after 17g5?!)

Diagram #1
(after 17g5?!)
Diagram #2 (after 33Rg7??+)

Diagram #2
(after 33Rg7??)

Game 3 (16 November 2003)

Man Bytes Machine!

In a clear display of power and dominating play, GM Garry Kasparov displayed one of the best illustrations of anti-computer play by rendering the X3D Fritz into a confused heap of silicon. After cramping the computer's position, the program had no chance to display its tremendous tactical prowess. In the positional game that ensued, human intuition reigned supreme and Kasparov repeated the positional crush as in Kasparov-Deep Blue, 1996.

The computer lost a pawn early, played strange moves throughout the middlegame and its pieces started to trip over one another in an effort to drum up counterplay on the kingside. It even resorted to cheap tactical tricks such as 20Qh6 and 21Bh4 threatening 22Qxe3+. Ironically, it did not opt for the f5-f4 idea that was predicted by Chess.FM commentator
GM John Fedorowicz. In the meantime, Kasparov crashed through on the queenside in classic fashion with a pawn sacrifice 29.a6!

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


In a classic military simulation, black's pieces scurried back to defend the queenside, but it was too late. Kasparov had broken through after 43.Nxa6 and the X3D Fritz resigned a couple of moves later in lieu of an imminent loss of material. John Fernandez, who is the main organizer of the event stated that he hadn't seen Kasparov that happy in quite some time. A record of 5571 chess enthusiasts watched the game on the ICC. With an obvious sign of relief, Kasparov will take the black pieces and will hope for repeat success.

Game 3: Kasparov 1 - X3D Fritz 0, (annotated version--X3D site)
Score: Kasparov 1 - X3D Fritz 1

Smiles of relief: Garry Kasparov with the ESPN team. (Photo courtesy of

Smiles of relief: Garry Kasparov with the ESPN team.
(Photo courtesy of

Game 4 (18 November 2003)

Kasparov-- X3D match fought to a draw!

With the weight of humanity on his shoulders, Garry Kasparov toiled over what he would play in the ultimate game of the 2nd "Man vs. Machine" match. Having eschewed more provocative defenses such as the King's Indian and the Grnfeld, Kasparov chose the "safe" Queen's Gambit accepted.

IM Kevin Denny of Barbados asked John Fedorowicz (commentating for Chess.FM)  if the King's Indian Defense would have been a better choice to close the position. Fedorowicz mentioned that Kasparov has had trouble with the King's Indian Defense and that opponents are avoiding his Sicilian Najdorf by  playing 1.d4 and finding his defensive weaknesses. ESPN commentator GM Yasser Seirawan mentioned that alternatives such as the Slav Defense may perhaps create positions that are in X3D's favor due to the often wide-open play. 

Ironically, this game started out with white grabbing an opening advantage after 13.Qxb3. Kasparov had been down this road before having defeated his nemesis, GM Vladimir Kramnik in a beautiful game where he sacrificed his queen with 13Nxd5 14.Rad1 Nxf4!!? (Diagram #1). However, Kasparov opted for 13exd5 14.Rad1 Be6 (Diagram #2). Despite the lead in development, French Grandmaster Joel Lautier (who holds a plus-score against Kasparov) felt that all indications led to the game being drawn.

Diagram #1 (Kramnik-Kasparov, 2001 saw 13Nxd5 14.Rad1 Nxf4!!?) Diagram #2 (X3D Fritz-Kasparov went 13exd5 14.Rad1 Be6).

Diagram #1
(13Nxd5 14.Rad1 Nxf4!!?)
Kramnik-Kasparov, 2001

Diagram #2
(after 13exd5 14.Rad1 Be6)

After 15.Qxb7, Kasparov had a wrinkle of his own in 15Bd6!? instead of the natural 15Bc5 16.Be5 Qe7. After 16.Bg5, the game went down the road of a forced variation of 16...Rb8 17.Qxa6 Rxb2 18.Bxf6 Qxf6 19.Qxd6 Qxc3 20.Nd4 Rxa2 21.Nxe6 fxe6 22.Qxe6+ Kh8 23.Rf1 Qc5 (Diagram #3). There were some interesting elementary mating tricks pointed out by Seirawan. For example, on 24.Qxd5 (24.Rxd5?? Qxf2+!) 24Rfxf2 25.Qxc5?? (25.Qd8+ Rf8+!) 25Rxg2+ 26.Kh1 Rxh2+ 27.Rg1 Rag2#. Given the level of play, these traps were highly unlikely. The game ended in a draw before the position was repeated three times, or reached a "three-fold repetition."

Diagram #3 (After a series of forced moves, black plays 23...Qc5 in a dead equal position.) Diagram #4 Final Position

Diagram #3
(after 23...Qc5)

Diagram #4
Final Position

In the post-match press conference Garry Kasparov stated the difficulty in playing such an opponent, but also added that he had played better overall than the computer which capitalized off of an unfortunate blunder in Game 2. After a "satisfying" result, and the honor of chess supremacy still up in the air, the next "Man vs. Machine" match will draw great interest. American viewers are grateful to ESPN for covering the match and giving chess the exposure it rightly deserves. The ICC and Chess.FM are also to be commended. Finally, kudos to GM Maurice Ashley who once again performed a stellar job in his role as lead announcer!

Game 4: Kasparov - X3D Fritz
Score: Kasparov 2 - X3D Fritz 2

Reports by Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum

See match details at, "GM Ashley will make the call at X3D match"