Fritz entry raises controversy

CHENNAI, MAY 7. A controversy has erupted in the Dutch chess championship with the sensational inclusion of the computer programme Fritz as one of the participants. In the drawing of lots made on Saturday, the computer programme was to face GM Jeroen Piket, one of the favourites in the opening round on Sunday at Rotterdam.

Former world championship candidate GM Paul van der Sterren, who won the Dutch championship in 1985 and 1993 has refused to play the computer and will receive a zero by default in the 10th round. He was also absent for the brief opening ceremony on Saturday.

The Dutch Chess Federation, perhaps, becomes the first nation to allow a computer to participate in the National championship to stimulate interest and inject sponsorships.

However, in case of a tie with a human for the title, the title will be awarded to the one with ``flesh and blood,'' according to an official press release. Fritz will not have access to its endgame module which has been analysed till mate with all positions of six pieces and less.

Due to the participation of Fritz and abolishment of appearance fee, the prize fund has a record 166,250 guilders (about Rs. 29 lakhs) with a first prize of 40,000 guilders. Eight of the 12 participants are grandmasters.

In another notable inclusion, Russian GM Sergey Tiviakov will play his first Dutch championship, while defending Dutch champion Predrag Nikolic, who continues to represent Bosnia, has been stopped from competing.

- Our Chess Correspondent