Chess Grandmaster Robert Byrne played the world's top- ranked chess computer a game on February 11, 1990. Following is a user-friendly analysis of the game, intended for low and medium ranked players. The moves will be shown in long algebraic. K=King, Q=Queen, B=Bishop, N=Knight, R=Rook, and P=Pawn The board is layed out on a grid, with the White pieces horizontally layed out from A on the left, through H on the right. The first rank (where the White major pieces are located) is rank 1, and it goes down to 8, which is where Black's major pieces are located.
For example, the initial location of the White king is e1. The Black queen is initially on d8. A move of a piece is indicated by giving the shorthand for the piece, followed by the square it's coming from, followed by the square it ends up on. So, for example, a move of the White Knight closest to the King would be Ng1-f3.
Special situations: a capture is indicated by an "x" instead of the usual "-". Also, the shorthand for pawns is not used, so a movement of a pawn is simply indicated by giving the starting square, followed by the ending square, as in e2-e4.
Background: Robert Byrne is a strong Grandmaster. He is one of the top 100 players in the world, and in the early 70's participated in a semi-final for the world championship.
Deep Thought calculates positions at the rate of 1,000,000 positions per second. This gives it a tremendous ability to navigate in positions which require broad calculation.
Deep Thought had White in this game:
1.c2-c4 ... In the opening, the aim of all strong players is to control the center, whether by pieces or by pawns. When a player has much better control of the center (the squares e4,d4, e5, d5) than his opponent, he is able to use that control to launch attacks on either side of the board, and his opponent is cramped, and unable to match him for flexibility. In this case, DT choose to advance the c pawn. This gives control of the d5 square, although it does not immediately free a diagonal for development of either bishop, as would have been the case after 1. d2-d4 or 1. e2-e4.
1.... g7-g6 Black moves his g pawn, allowing to develop the bishop on the g7 square. Such a development would place the bishop on a strong diagonal.
2. Nb1-c3 White develops his knight to a strong square, from where it controls the important d5 and e4 squares. In conjunction with the c pawn, White now has significant control
of the d5 square. (Notice that had White first moved the Knight out, the c pawn would have been blocked, and would have been unable to participate in this battle for central squares). White is delaying moving his center pawns (the e pawn or the d pawn), preferring instead to see what his opponents intentions are vis-a-vis pawn control of the center.
2.... Bf8-g7 Byrne likewise simply places his bishop on a good diagonal, and does not commit his center pawns yet. Note that Black now strongly controls dark squares, while White controls light (white) squares.
3. g2-g3 White prepares to further intensify the pressure on the e4 and d5 squares by putting his bishop on g2 (this process of putting a bishop on the g2, g7, b2, or b7 squares nestled behind a triangle of pawns is called "fianchettoing" it)
3..... e7-e5 Black finally strikes out with a center pawn. He now firmly controls the d4 square, preventing DT for the moment from advancing his own d pawn. This control comes at a cost, of course, since now Black no longer has the option of contesting White's control of the d5 square by making a move such as e7-e6, since the pawn is now advanced. Byrne's strategy, well-accepted, is to attempt to defeat DT not by tactics, since he has a healthy respect for the machine's calculative powers, but by trying to get into positions where the ability to form long-range plans based on (hopefully for Byrne) locked pawn structures where the machine is at a disadvantage. This is because the machine is unable to form long-range positional plans.
4. Bf1-g2 White also intensifies the pressure on the squares he now controls. It is certainly possible that these moves are all in the opening "book" (a series of pre-programmed moves) of the computer, so that it has not had to "think" by itself yet.
4....Nb8-c6 Black develops a piece, and (this is beginning to sound monotonous) controls "his" dark squares. So far, so good.
5. d2-d3 White plays this seemingly meek move for two reasons. First, DT wants to open a line for the potential development of his queen bishop on the newly opened diagonal. Second, White wants to solidify the pawn chain e2-d3-c4, and reduce the possibility of Black playing the move e5-e4 at some point after White has played out his king knight to the square f3, which would force the knight to have to move again, and White would lose time repositioning it.
5..... f7-f5 Black plays aggressively. He increases control over e4. It is at a time like this that a Grandmaster decides on a long range plan. Where does each sides' chances lie?
Well, White has more control currently of queenside squares (his bishop is pointing in that direction, and he has a
pawn on c4). Black, on the other hand, has morecontrol on the kingside, and so he will try to "mix it up" there. In slow moving games, it is advisable to try to mix things up in an area where you have more control of squares or more pieces, since the opponent will not be able to fight as strongly, due to his local disadvantage.
6. e2-e3 White gets a little control bck over his d4 square, but blocks in his queen bishop. He is also creating a few weaknesses on light squares in the kingside area (for example, were the bishop on g2 to disappear, Black could infiltrate pices on these white squares which now lack pawn protection).
6.... Ng8-f6 Black develops the knight to a good square, and prepares to castle.
7.Ng1-e2 ... White develops his knight to a somewhat less- influential square. Why not to f3? Well, since White is not a person, but a computer, it is not really "afraid" to move to f3, which would be a more active square. White, however, probably "sees" that at some point Black might play the move e5-e4, forcing the knight to move. This would be uncomfortable, since there aren't any great squares to move to after that. Also, White wants to keep the diagonal open for his king bishop for as long as possible. Computers are "rewarded" in their move evaluation algorithms for moves which give maximum pice mobility and control of squares.
7..... o-o This means "castle" This is a protective move which occurs once in a game for each side, and two pieces, the rook and the king, move simultaneously. The advantage of such a move is that the king is usually placed into greater safety, and the rook is more or less mobilized. Both these concepts are important in a game in which the object of the game is to mate the opponents' king, and if the king stays on the e file, he is likely to catch a death of cold if central lines are opened at some point. It is usually better to castle sooner rather than later, since later might be too late. The move means the king now occupies the square g8 and the rook now occupies the square f8.
8.f2-f4 White strikes at the Black control of the center with this move. If Black were to capture by playing e5xf4, White would capture back with e3xf4, and now the Black control of the dark squares would be reduced. The disadvantage of this move is that White's 'e' pawn now lacks protection by it's brother, and the squares around the kingside are further weakened. Black's fianchettoed king position, on the other hand, is relatively safe.
8......d7-d6 Black solidifies his pawn chain, and gives the 'e' pawn greater support. He also opens up the diagonal for his queen bishop, threatening to play Bc8-e6, contesting White's control of the light squares in the center.
9. Qd1-b3? A bad move. First, ANY move with a Queen should be very carefully considered. The queen is the strongest piece on the board, and radiates power wherever placed. Here, DT has the right idea (to pressurize the queenside) but this idea should be carried out with a pawn march, starting with Ra1-b1, and then b2-b4, and b4-b5. The queen cannot do it by herself, and is vulnerable to attacks by Black's minor pieces, from whom she would have to retreat. DT probably wanted to threaten the 'b' pawn, to stop the bishop from being developed, and it was also lured by the potentials resulting from a check by c4-c5. Black's next move removes the check possibilities.
9..... Kg8-h8 The king goes into the corner, a safe snuggly place.
10 o-o White castles, the king is now on g1, and the rook on f1.
10..... Nc6-e7 Black repositions the knight to control d5, and to prepare possible pawn control of d5 by c7-c6.
11. c4-c5 Dubious. Of course not 11.Bg2xb7, (apparently winning a pawn) because of Ra8-b8, pinning the bishop against the queen, and winning it next move).
11..... c7-c6 Black establishes pawn control of d5.
12.c5xd6 With this move, White permits Black the potential of pressuring his 'd' pawn, since the pawn will now be on an open file.
12...... Qd8xd6 White's 'd' pawn is now attacked, and he still faces an interesting problem of how to develop his queen bishop.
13. f4xe5?! .... Dubious. Deep Thought, as is the want of many computers (including my Mephisto 68000xl) takes the tactical way out. It doesn't realize that now BOTH the 'd' and 'e' pawns can be subject to attack along the 'd' and 'e' files. And if either pawn were to move up, then the square in front of the other that the former controlled becomes weak. For example, if White were at some point to play d3-d4, then the e4 square becomes very weak. Byrne never quite gets the chance to do this, however.
13... Qd6xe5 Black's only concern is to find good squares to put his queen and the knight on e7. Then, he can begin the process of pressuring the 'd' and'e' pawns.
14. Ne2-f4 The knight finds a square, but it's not attacking anything, really. I suspect that DT's main concern was to stop Byrne from playing Bc8-e6 sometime in the next few moves, which would force the White queen to move
14..... g6-g5 This forces the knight to move away, and also to be out of play for a while, but it loosens the pawn cover surrounding the black king, and weakens the pawn protection of the f5 pawn.
15. Nf4-h3 White thereby gains a tempo by attacking the 'g' pawn, but the knight now requires a few tempos to re-deploy. A human would have found it humiliating to retreat back to e2, though a computer shouldn't. A benefit of the move, however, is that to protect the 'g' pawn, Black must again move a pawn which is part of the circumference of pawns guarding his king, a further weakening. And the 'f' pawn will continue to require attention.
15..... h7-h6 The light squares around the black king are now pretty weak (read: not guarded by pawns anymore).
16.Bc1-d2 White makes motions to at least move his queen bishop off the last rank, sort of a development. The move does connect the white rooks, and premits the queen rook to participate in the game.
16....... b7-b6 If I were black, this is where I would think for a while. Black has pressure on the central white pawns, but he has his own weak 'f' pawn to consider also. Oneof his prime concerns must be to develop the queen bishop, and also the queen rook. But if Black were to move the queen bishop right away, he would lose the 'b' pawn to white's queen. Black could have played Qe5-c7 to protect the 'b' pawn, but he wants to somehow play Bc8-e6, which would gain a tempo by attacking the white queen. If he played Qe5-c7, then the bishop could never move to e6. So, Black first plays b7-b6, moving the pawn to a square from which it is protected by the black 'a" pawn, freeing the bishop to move. A dark side of the pawn move, however, is that now the White king bishop is pressing against the 'c' pawn. A fresh weakness is created in Black's camp.
17. Qb3-a3! Good move. The queen voluntarily relocates, this time grabbing a nice diagonal leading to the knight on e7, which finds itself soon remarkably berift of protection.
17....... a7-a5?! Black changes his mind. The move Bc8-e6 would not accomplish all that much now (though it would mean that the bishop would continue to protect the 'f' pawn). Instead, Black plots to play Bc8-a6, which would attack the white 'd' pawn, and behind it the rook. But, now the 'b' pawn is weakened, and White seizes on this fresh weakness.
18. Na4 The 'b' pawn is now attacked, and if it moves, the square c5 becomes available for posting white's knight.
18....... Rb8 The pawn must be protected, and the alternatives for doing so are not great. Ra8-a6 is totally
awkward, Qe5-c7 gives white the chance to pile on the 'c' pawn some more, by Ra1-c1. Note that Qe5-b8 would lose the knight on e7 to the qhite queen, a recurrent theme in the next few moves.
19. Nh3-f2 White takes a moment to relocate the knight to a better square, which protects the 'd' pawn in anticipation of Black's next move. He also does not want his king quite so exposed to possible checks.
19..... Bc8-a6 The bishop comes out.
20 Bd2-c3 The bishop finds an active square, and controls important center squares and opposes the other bishop on the long diagonal. He is also laying the foundation for a little combination.
20...... Qe5-e6 The knight must be protected!
21. Bc3xa5 If Black simply recaptures the bishop by b6xa5, then white plays Na4-c5, attacking the black queen and the bishop on a6, and the black queen has no square to go to from which she will keep protecting both the bishop on a6, and the knight on e7. Therefore, one of them will fall, and white will have won a pawn after the complications.
21........ Ba6xd3 In order to not come out a pawn down in the 'desperado' complications.
22. Nf2xd3 Surprise! White does not play Qa3xd3, which seems to be necessary in order to stop Black from playing Qe6xe3 WITH CHECK, followed by THEN taking the bishop on a5.
22....... b6xa5 If instead black carries out the "threat" by playing Qe6xe3 check, and then b6xa5, then the sequence would go 22....Qe6xe3check 23 Kg1-h1 b6xa5 24 Ra1-e1! followed by Re1xe7, and White ends up a piece ahead!
23. Ra1-e1 White takes the time to protect the 'e' pawn for the future. The square 'c5' is now a great spot for either of White's knights.
23...... Ne7-d5 Black finally moves the accursed knight, to a central square, but White's pieces find much greater scope.
24.Na4-c5 ...... Black's queen is attacked, and Black must give way. Finally, Black's pawns are weaker than White's, and the White bishop is very strong.
24...... Qe6-c8 The only square from which the f5 pawn is still protected, but now the other knight jumps into a strong square, attacking the weakend light squares on the kingside.
25. Nd3-e5 White threatens Ne5-g6 check, winning the rook on f8 for only a knight. This would be a winning advantage
in material, since a knight is worth only 3 pawns, while a rook is worth 5 pawns.
25......Rb8-b5 At first glance, this is incomprehensible, since it allows White to carry out his threat of Ne5-g6 check. But Black thinks he has seen further than the computer. He thinks that after the knight on g6 captures the rook, when black takes back with the bishop, the white knight on c5 will be lost, since it will be attacked many times, and pinned to the white queen. But the computer has seen further.
Incidentally, if Black had stopped Ne5-g6 in other ways, he would not have had an easy game either. For example, if he had played Kh8-h7 in order to control g6, then Qa3-d3 would have been very sstrong, pinning the f5 pawn against the black king. Kh8-g8 lets the knight in to g6 also, though not as immediately seriously as in the game.
26. Ne5-g6! White wins the rook for the knight! (Also known as "winning the exchange")
26...... Kh8-h7 Kh8-g8 might have been better, although I don't really know.
27. Ng6xf8 Bg7xf8 Byrne's "point" of giving up the exchange. He hopes to win that c5 knight. If he does, then he would have given up a rook for a knight and a bishop, an advantageous scenario for him.
28. Re1-c1 White immediately protects the knight again. But Black can attack it again. This is the kind of situation where one is appreciative of the ability to count, as taught in the 1st grade.
28........ Nf6-d7 The knight is now attacked three times, and it does not seem that it can be profitably defended again. But now White strikes from a different direction...
29. Bg2-h3!! Byrne may have thought that he did not need to consider this move since he can just play g5-g4, but he can't. White now threatens Bh3xf5 check, followed by Bf5xd7 winning humongous material. The weak f5 pawn!!
29...... g5-g4 "Show me," Byrne says. The computer obliges. But there was no other defense in any case.
30. Bh3xg4!! In a blaze of glory. White renews his threat of Bxf5. But what if f5xg4?
32. Qa3-d3! check
32....... Byrne RESIGNS
If 32....Kh7-h8, then 33 Nc5xd7, followed by Rf1xf8 check, winning an entire knight (an overwhelming advantage)
If 32....Kh7-g8, then 33. Qd3-g6 check, and then if 33....Bf8-g7, then 34. Nc5-e6 with a fast checkmate, while if 33....Kg8-h8, then 34 Nc5xd7, followed by Rf1xf8 check, as above
If 32....Kh7-g7, then 33. Nc5-e6 check, followed by 34. Qd3xb5, and if c6xb5, then Rc1xc8, having won a whole rook.
For more information about chess in general, and how one can get a national rating and play in tournaments, you can send me a msg via BBS's in New York, or through the chess conferences on RIME and Internet. Also, write to the US Chess Federation (U.S.C.F.) at 186 Route 9w, New Windsor, N.Y. 12550. Best, Israel A. Silverman
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