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Programs, CC and Losses. Part 2.

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You must assume that it is possible to do everything well and even so,  get a bad result”.  “Law & Order : Criminal Intent.”


Leafing through old Chess mags I found a very interesting article written by the late ex-Soviet GM E. Gufeld. He made the following reflection:

“The discussion about whether one can win a game  if one’s opponent makes no mistakes is as old as the mountains. Many chessplayers in my generation (including myself) have grown up under the influence of the attractive traditions of the SOviet Chess School, and have learnt a great truth: the resolution of the fight comes determined, before any other thing, by a better strategy” (Bold letters  mine.- Questchess).

(This is the linking point of the previous and the present posts in which we are talking about playing CC with the aid of powerful programs and the possibility of continuing playing CC in spite of it)

Gufeld included one of his games (see previous post) in which he finds it difficult to pinpoint a clear mistake on the loser’s part. He also quotes Botvinnik saying:

“There are times when it is possible to find oneself in a lost position without making any mistake”.

So,in my opinion , it implies it would be possible to win against any apparently infallible chess program by trying to beat in in the field of strategy: both sides play their opening moves, choose the best plans according to the position and if there is no tactical melées, in a pure strategical struggle, one of them comes on top.  (You may say this is very nearly impossible to do. O.K. But as chessplayers we are obliged to look for solutions and try to make them happen. This is today’s challenge, isn’t it???).

Curiously enough in the same magazine there was another game in which the annotator (GM Seirawan) was unable to find a clear explanation of what happened except that of “a superior strategy”. In that game a mistake at last occurred and decided the game, but what I am interested is in the previous 29th moves.:

W.: V. Korchnoi (1)

B.: A. Shirov (0)

Buenos Aires, 1993.

1. c4  Nf6  2. Nc3  g6  3. e4  d6  4. d4  Bg7  5. Be2  0-0  6. Nf3  e5  7. 0-0  Nc6  8. d5  Ne7  9. Ne1  Ne8  10. Be3  f5  11. f3  f4  12. Bf2  h5  13. c5  g5  14. a4  Ng6  15. a5  Bh6  16. Nb5  a6  17. Na3  Kh8  18. Nc4  Rg8  19. Ra3  Nf6  20. cd6  cd6  21. Nb6  Rb8  22. Rc3  g4  23. fg4  Ne4  24. Rc8  Rc8  25. Nc8  Qc8  26. Bb6  Ne7  27. gh5  Nf6 (Here Seirawan says that Black has an advantage without White having made a clear mistake:both sides have developed their plans and Black has emerged on top). -After a long reflection Korchnoi played :

28. b3  (and the game continued): … Ned5  29. Bc4  Qc6  30. Rf2! – here Shirov falters with 30…., Rc8?  because he thought that after 30…, Rf8! White would get the advantage…-

31. Bd5  Nd5  32. Rc2 Nc3  33. Qg4! Bf8  34. Nd3  Qe8  35. Nb4  d5  36.  Nd5  Bc5  37. Bc5  Rc5  38. h6  Qf8  39. Rc3  Black resigned.

A conclusion seems clear: if you want to beat the computer try to do it in the field of strategy, trying to reach positions (from the adequate opening) where the program evaluations are absolutely similar. A program can “see” every tactical/combinative nuance, but not strategical shades  when the position offers several equivalent possibilities. In the end it has to propose  move, and nobody can explain why it chooses a),b),c) or d) when the evaluation is similar or the same. If you submit one of these levelled positions to the computer, you can see two effects: 1) It chooses always the same move or 2) It chooses one move at one time, and other of the moves at other time.

There are positions where “the only very best move” does not exist. This is the field we will have to choose as our battleground.



Written by QChess

July 26, 2012 at 7:28 am

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