Machine outplays man

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ENDGAME: Vladimir Kramnik pitted against Deep Fritz in Bonn on Tuesday.
ENDGAME: Vladimir Kramnik pitted against Deep Fritz in Bonn on Tuesday.

Kramnik loses match 4-2 to Deep Fritz

BONN: World chess champion Vladimir Kramnik lost the sixth and decisive game against computer program Deep Fritz on Tuesday night, ceding a hard-fought Man vs. Machine match 4-2.

Kramnik, seeking a final win to level the match, played an unbalanced opening with Black. He started strongly, but was ultimately outplayed for the first time in the series.

Fritz won game two when Kramnik inexplicably blundered into an immediate checkmate. The other four games were drawn with Kramnik possibly missing several chances.

"The outcome was not clear until the last moment," Kramnik said. The Russian takes home $500,000 half of what he would have received if he had won against Fritz, a commercially available chess program that runs on a personal computer.

After the game, Kramnik said he was "a bit disappointed" and expressed the hope that a rematch could be arranged in a year or two. "With more time to prepare, I still have a chance." In October, Kramnik defeated Veselin Topalov to be the world chess championship for the first time since 1993.

From the start on Tuesday, Kramnik played for a win despite the disadvantage of the black pieces. He switched from the solid Petroff Defence he used in game four to the dynamic Najdorf Variation of the Sicilian Defence. "My play was a bit risky; maybe I took far more risk than I should have."

He took the computer out of its pre-programmed opening book on move eight. Forced to begin calculating on its own, the program played its rook from e1 to e3 and then swung it over to g3 to attack Kramnik's kingside. American grandmaster Larry Christiansen called the manoeuvre "very crude, cave-man like Think `Fred Flintstone.'" Kramnik disagreed, calling it "rather unusual but not at all bad."

According to American grandmaster Yasser Seirawan, Kramnik had equalised and was perhaps slightly better. He had a central pawn majority and play on the queenside, while White's kingside threats seemed nebulous. But against a machine that calculates millions of positions every second, no tactical danger is to be taken lightly. AP

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