Sun-Herald Chess Column for May 21

The wild-card entry of a computer into the Dutch Championship, which concluded on Friday, was bound to be controversial but few could have predicted the maelstrom which the silicon participant has incited. The German company ChessBase were allowed by the Dutch Chess Federation (KNSB) to enter Fritz SSS in the tournament after agreeing to add $50,000 to the prize fund.

Many players were upset by the decision but only GM Paul Van der Sterren declared that he would refuse to play against the computer and thus miss out on any part of the $50,000.

However when IM Manuel Bosboom protested by resigning his second round game against Fritz after only four moves, a fiasco seemed imminent. Had Fritz's next opponent, GM Eric Van den Doel, joined the protest as he had planned, the tournament might have ended in farce. Instead Van den Doel decided to play but lost horribly in 15 moves.

Suddenly the world's media became fascinated by the story - a computer leading the Dutch Championship - and the KNSB could claim vindication for their publicity 'coup'. Unfortunately for the KNSB and Fritz, most of the coverage turned out to be negative. The KNSB was portrayed as having sold its soul for $50,000, the
computer's Dutch qualifications were lampooned, a protest web site was born (schaakprotest.nl) and Van der Sterren became a reluctant celebrity.

Over the board, the computer could not keep pace with the top Dutch GMs, although its two free points helped it to a highly respectable third placing. However its game against the tournament winner, given below, should send the Fritz programmers back to the motherboard.

Rotterdam 2000
White: L.Van Wely
Black: Fritz SSS
Opening: English

1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 Nc6 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.a3 Bxc3 6.bxc3 0-0 7.e4 a6 8.a4 d6 9.d3 Bg4?! 10.f3 Bd7 11.Ne2 Qc8?! 12.h3 b6 13.f4 Be6?

Blocked positions are not Fritz's forte and here it walks into a simple, albeit slow, kingside pawn storm.

14.f5 Bd7 15.g4 Ne8 16.Ng3 Qd8 17.g5 Bc8 18.h4 f6 19.Qh5 Na5 20.Ra3

Continuing the no counterplay policy.

#20...Qe7 21.Nf1! Nc6 22.Ne3 Qd7 23.g6 h6 24.Ng4 Ra7 25.Rg1! 1-0

Finally the machine woke up to the fact that it has no defence against 26.Bf3 followed by 27.Bxh6!.

2000 Dutch Championship
Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Leading final scores:
1. Van Wely 8.5/11;
2. Piket 7.5;
3eq. Van der Sterren, Tiviakov, Fritz SSS 7;
5eq. Nijboer, DeVreugt 6.
****
Stein Memorial
Lvov, Ukraine
Scores after 7 rounds:
1. Ivanchuk(Ukr) 5;
2. Krasenkov(Pol) 4.5;
3. Belyavsky(Slo) 3.5;
4. Korchnoi(Swi) 3;
5eq. Romanishin(Ukr), Gelfand(Isr) 2.5.

Sarajevo, Bosnia
Leading scores after 3 rounds:
1eq. Kasparov(Rus), Morozevich(Rus), Shirov(Spa) 2.5;
4eq. Georgiev(Bul), Bareev(Rus) 2;
6eq. Adams(Eng), Topalov(Bul), Bacrot(Fra) 1.5.