Here is a nice article by Garry Kasparov, extolling the virtue of chess as a way to aid education, especially in the developing world. Phiona Mutesi features prominently in the article, and hers is an inspirational story. Worth a read, especially if you haven't heard of her.
Entries in Garry Kasparov (16)
Big Bad Garry (Kasparov) has already offered to help Magnus Carlsen in his preparations for the latter's forthcoming world championship match with Viswanathan Anand. (HT: Brian Gaines.) It's probably good news for Carlsen, and a bit of shrewd legacy building on Kasparov's part - both positively and negatively. Positively, he gets to take a bit more credit for helping build Carlsen into the monster he is; negatively, he helps to ensure that Anand's growing legacy doesn't eat into his own. Anand isn't likely in any case to maintain the champion's title for 15 years, as Kasparov did, nor is he likely to threaten Kasparov's peak rating record of 2851. On the other hand, Anand has won the title in three different formats, beat Vladimir Kramnik (which Kasparov of course failed to do), and has held off not only his elders and contemporaries but, with a hypothetical win over Carlsen, the next generation as well.
So it makes sense for Carlsen, whose openings are often reasonably effective from a practical standpoint but rarely an existential threat to players like Kramnik and Anand, to spend some time working with a legend of special preparation. Further, Kasparov's immense experience of pressure-packed matches will help Carlsen as well - clearly he didn't cope with that aspect of the battle as well as he could have in London. And it makes sense for Kasparov too, for reasons mentioned in the previous paragraph. (There's also what's bound to be some hefty remuneration, but as Kasparov is by all accounts a very wealthy man that can't be more than icing on the cake.)
But what about poor Anand? Should Kasparov be a polite elder statesman and leave these battles to those fighters still in the ring? And what can Anand do about this? I'm thinking there could be several silver linings for him. First, the clash of egos and approaches between Carlsen and Kasparov might prevent the young challenger from playing his best "Carlsenian" chess against the champion. Second, given the well-known and enduring enmity between Kasparov and Anand, this could motivate Anand like almost nothing else to really rise to the occasion and bring back his very best chess. Third, anti-Kasparov sentiment might turn up some surprising new volunteers for the Anand camp. I for one would love to discover that Kramnik went on to offer Anand some serious help as well. Heck, if I were strong enough I'd volunteer to help Anand prep in any way I could, gratis if possible.
Just some musings from a player motivated in part (but not only) by the wish for his generation to maintain its place at the top of the pile; the young will overthrow us soon enough! (And in turn be overthrown as well, world without end, amen.) Your thoughts?
I suspect I've shared this link with my readers before, maybe at this blog's previous location. Just in case I haven't, though, here's a translation (and transcription) of a long radio interview of Garry Kasparov from late 2008.
Nothing is official until the tournament is over, but the unofficial news after round 2 of the 4th London Chess Classic deserves notice. With his win over Levon Aronian, Magnus Carlsen has (unofficially) pushed his rating to 2855.7, breaking Garry Kasparov's all-time rating record of 2851 and equalling (when rounded up) Kasparov's retroactively calculated unofficial peak of 2856. In the process of winning, he has also pushed his lead over Aronian to a whopping 51 points on the live rating list.
His partner in the lead is Vladimir Kramnik, who defeated Hikaru Nakamura with the black pieces. He too accomplished something noteworthy in pushing his rating back over 2800. He has also moved close to the number two spot on the rating list - the next extra half-point he gets relative to Aronian will do the trick.
Now for a brief recap of the games: Aronian sacrificed a pawn in the opening against Carlsen but seemed to misplay it, after which Carlsen, with White, had very good winning chances. Aronian dug in very well and at one point may have even been better, but when he failed to react properly to Carlsen's pawn advances on the kingside the tables turned again, and White won with a nice breakthrough combination in the end.
Against Nakamura's unusual Scotch with 6.Qe2, Kramnik seemed to come out of the opening in very good shape, and in due course won a pawn. It took a lot of work for him to convert the advantage in a queen ending, but he was up to the task and brought home the full point.
Viswanathan Anand had the white pieces against Luke McShane, but he was soon much worse. Only dogged defense and a bit of luck enabled him to escape.
Finally, Judit Polgar enjoyed a material advantage against Gawain Jones on the white side of a Sicilian Dragon, but Jones somehow managed to keep just enough counterplay to prevent Polgar from consolidating. After yet another long, hard fight, they too agreed to a draw.
Round 3 Pairings, with scores (3-1-0 system) in parenthesis:
- Aronian (0) - Anand (1)
- Kramnik (6) - Carlsen (6) (The Big Game!)
- Jones (1) - Nakamura (3)
- Adams (3) - Polgar (1)
- McShane - Bye (+ commentary)
Much ink, and the digital equivalent, has been spilled on the subject of the second Garry Kasparov-Deep Blue match, won by the machine 3.5-2.5. Many, myself included, believe that Kasparov was still the stronger player at the time; his problem was that he managed to psych himself out by the time of game 6, which he lost horribly. That psychological collapse is believed to have started with his first loss in game two, when Deep Blue made a pair of surprisingly "human" moves: 37.Be4, which was human in a good way (a fine preventive move eschewing material gain to keep Black bottled up and without counterplay), and 44.Kf1, which allegedly blundered into an eventual perpetual check. (Kasparov, trusting the computer, resigned a move later.)
It is clear that the game, and the mysteriousness of those two moves, affected him strongly. But according to statistician Nate Silver, Kasparov's psychological confusion began in game 1, when the computer made a rather silly move due to a bug. Silver thinks (or maybe reports) that Kasparov took this as a sign of the depth of Deep Blue's algorithm rather than as a bug, and the spooking began.
Is it true? Who knows. It's an interesting story, though.
(HT: Ken Regan)
(For now.) While there's yet a little more in this one (HT again to Jai Unudurti) about the tension between Viswanathan Anand and Garry Kasparov (and a remarkable story going back to 1990), the main area of interest comes when Anand offers some realism and wisdom about the effects of aging on the chess player (at least most chess players) and how he copes with it.
A post-mortem in two parts, between Garry Kasparov and Jonathan Speelman, after a rapid game played in London in 1989. (Part 1 is here, part 2 here.) It's an interesting, somewhat weird game (characteristic of a lot of Speelman's games!), and fun to have a look back to when Kasparov was on top and Speelman - a two-time Candidate and #4 in the world at the start of the year - was playing some of his best chess as well.
HT: Ross Hytnen
Remember the second match between Deep(er) Blue and Garry Kasparov? This is the one where computers supposedly proved their superiority to human beings in chess. Kasparov had defeated its predecessor the year before by a relatively comfortable 4-2 score, but the rematch in 1997 went differently. Kasparov opened with a comfortable win, but then lost game 2 in what turned out to be controversial style, drew the next three games (though coming close to victory in games 4 and 5), but then had a complete breakdown in the last game, getting crushed in just 19 moves. Thus Kasparov lost the match 3.5-2.5, and the popular media widely broadcast that this was the end of humanity's reign over the royal game. This was almost surely false, but like the old joke goes, we're just haggling over the price; there's absolutely no doubt at this point that decent programs running on decent home computers are far stronger than even the best humans on their best day.
But back to the match. Game 2 was a huge turning point, and not just because the computer won. Kasparov was playing the Closed Ruy - not exactly one of his main openings with the black pieces - and was getting impressively outplayed. A first move that shook up Kasparov was 37.Be4. To human eyes, it's really obvious. Black has no counterplay anywhere, but would if he could play ...e4. Prevent it, and the world is White's oyster. The problem was that 37.Qb6 seems like a simple win of material. The standard view of computers was that they would take free material in all but the most obvious cases where doing so would be wrong, but here it didn't.
But if that bothered Kasparov a bit after the game, that was nothing compared with what happened later. The computer apparently continued rolling along with its positional masterpiece, and when Deep Blue played 45.Ra6 Kasparov threw in the towel. Anyway, analysis later that night seemed to show that in the final position Kasparov missed a draw with 45...Qe3, with an inevitable perpetual check. As the line wasn't even too terribly long, especially for a computer calculating 300 million positions per second, it really seemed to Kasparov that the hand of human intervention was at work. If 37.Be4 was the sort of move where typically human judgment is better than that of a materialistic computer's, then 44.Kf1 is a moment where human judgment falls short relative to the computer's. The engine can work things out to the bloody end; humans can't.
And yet...Deep Blue didn't. How was this possible? After and even during the match, Kasparov requested - or rather, demanded - the logs displaying the computer's evaluation. (Unless I'm badly mistaken, the Deep Blue team claims that they were given shortly after the match, as promised (and even published publicly), but for some reason I haven't been able to ascertain Kasparov continued to insist on their release.) Logs or no logs, it still seemed surprising that Deep Blue missed the perpetual.
But did it? There has been a lot of analysis of the ending since then, and if anything has become clear it's that if there is a draw, it isn't a trivial one. Whether it's a draw at all is an interesting question in its own right, but it's a very different issue from that of the alleged perpetual check. Also, importantly, this non-perpetual line is also relatively obvious for the computer; that is, it's plausible and well within its search horizon. It's clear that White - Deep Blue - is better in the resulting position, but this doesn't settle all the doubts either.
Did Deep Blue spot the perpetual check variations? IF it did, then it would have had to assess the non-perpetual variations as better for it than the endgame after 44.Kh1 Rb8 45.Qc6 Qxc6 46.dxc6. Contemporary engines prefer 44.Kh1, but did Deep Blue?
I've culled material from various Web sources: Ken Regan recently addressed the topic, Wikipedia has a decent introductory survey on the issue, and there are various analytical suggestions in the thread devoted to the game on ChessGames.com. For a historical look back readers may wish a look at this ChessBase article. Finally, I've amassed the analysis from the listed sites and added some of my own here, which you can replay and download. Doubtless there are mistakes in my analysis - I ran it on an older computer, for one thing - so I hope that those of you with access to souped-up hardware will find some improvements.
Garry Kasparov really and truly doesn't like Kirsan Ilyumzhinov's "successes" as FIDE President, and although his attempt to help Anatoly Karpov win the presidency in 2010 failed, he wants to have another go at it in 2014, even if it means he himself will be the opposition candidate.
Kasparov has done a lot for chess over the years with his fantastic play, and his charisma and energy brought major corporations like Intel, IBM and Microsoft into the game for a time. On the other hand, he did more damage to the world championship title than a year's worth of Anand-Gelfand matches while helping to alienate those same corporations as well. (Most famously in the case of IBM, when in the second Deep Blue match he all but accused the IBM team of cheating.) So if it's a race between Ilyumzhinov and Kasparov in 2014, the best candidate may be "none of the above".
(HT: Brian Karen)
In the preceding post I reviewed Informant 113 and mentioned a new column, "Garry's Choice". In the column's initial installment Kasparov features the game Paragua - Debashis, taking special note of a spectacular missed possibility:
Black has enough extra material to win several games, but his king is in a world of trouble. In the game he played 24...Kf8, which allowed a forced mate, but what he missed was 24...Qg4!!, after which the best White can do is play 25.Rxg4+ Kxf7 26.Qxh7+ Ke6 27.Re4+ Kd7 28.Rxe7+ Bxe7 29.h4, with good drawing chances.
An even prettier version of that move was possible a couple of moves before.
Here White played 23.Bxf7+, but 23.Rg1 is more accurate and more frightening, cutting off the enemy king's escape.
The only move, as you've surely surmised by now, is 23...Qg4!! The queen can be taken four different ways, even with check, but in every case Black is at least equal.
Kasparov confesses that this move is unique to him, and the best he can do to come up with a vague predecessor is "Mitrofanov's Deflection", the crowning blow to a deservedly famous composition. The key moment comes here:
White plays the spectacular 1.Qg5!!, pulling Black's queen to a dark square, so that after 1...Qxg5+ 2.Ka6 it can't safely check White's king along the f1-a6 diagonal.
The other predecessor Kasparov suggests is even less compelling, so while I'll provide it in the replayable games section I won't bother with it here.
Nevertheless, while the (missed) ...Qg4 idea is indeed magnificent, it's not entirely unique, and Kasparov missed a far greater predecessor. First of all, it's from an actual game. Second, it wasn't found later on and possibly by a computer; it was found by the player himself and executed in the game. Third, it's far more similar, making it a genuine predecessor.
MacDonald-Burn, Casual Game 1910, position after 33.Bh5
White is down a piece for a pawn, but the bishop on g5 is a goner and Black's king is looking kind of crispy. But once again her majesty comes to the rescue: 33...Qg4!! and all is well (or at least almost all). The same piece, going to the same square, and for at least one of the same reasons - to obstruct the g-file. Another similarity is that all White captures but one give Black an immediately winning advantage.
MacDonald correctly played 34.Rxg4, and after 34...Nf3+ the accurate 35.Kg3 would have maintained some advantage. After 35.Kg2? Nxd2 36.Rxg5+ Kh6 Black was better (in the 35.Kg3 case White would have 37.Kg4) and went on to win.