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Understand The Position 17: “Nerves of Silicon”

GM Ján Markoš | August 25, 2011 – 11:41One Comment | 623 views
Understand The Position 17: “Nerves of Silicon”

In the fifteenth part of this series I praised Lev Polugaevsky for his courage with which he faced the attack by Bobby Fischer. Today we will look at another kind of courage; this courage does not come up by facing the fear, but by its absence.

Translated by: Dusan Turcer

The hero of today’s article is not a man of flesh and blood, but a cluster of computers saddled by the chess program called Rybka 4. Of course, a computer program has the nerves of iron; it doesn’t need to worry about any miscalculation. Thus it sometimes can afford to play the moves, in which the earthlings usually get goosebumps…

The following example belongs to the category of “Do not try this at home”. Rybka is very strong; humans would probably never play that way; it would be too risky, too impractical.

Rybka 4 – Houdini 1.5a, TCEC S2 Elite Match (13), 2011:


How to improve the position of White? No breakthroughs available, pieces are placed seemingly perfectly. But maybe one of them is not ideally placed – the white king! Rybka decided to improve his position by the pilgrimage to the kingside:

73.Kf3! Rd5 74.Kf4! Rd6 75.Kg5! Rc8 76.Bf1 Rc7 77.Re1 Re7 78.Bc4 Kc8

Black knight on b4, which could make the most troubles to the white monarch, is standing on the far queenside being unable to jump to d5; he would get exchanged by the Bc4 right away. Black king is also on the far square. The rooks are not able to endanger the white king; he will always escape to the “lee side” of the pawn structure. He therefore doesn’t need to worry at all. So he is not worried and continues in his long journey:

79.Kh6! Kc7

Now the slowly maneuvering follows and is so typical of computer chess. Finally, it is no accident that our sample started in the 73rd move, although according to the position I would personally guess that the opponents played 35 moves maximum.

80.Rcc1 Kb8 81.Re2 Rb7 82.Rd2 Rdd7 83.Re1 Rd8 84.f3 b5 85.Bf1 Kc7 86.e4 Kb6 87.e5 Nd5 88.axb5 cxb5 89.f4 Rc7 90.Bg2 Rc3 91.Kg7! (This looks like a climbing Mount Everest…) 91…Rc7 92.Bxd5 Rxd5

White finally persuaded his opponent to allow the exchange of minor pieces. King activity is a decisive factor in the resulting four-rook endgame.

93.Kf6! b4 94.e6 ±

White is much better. The game, however, ended in a draw; Houdini presented another of his hat tricks and saved a half point.


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Comments (1)

  • Betty says:

    only ECF mberems are eligible to play in this league , this has the effect of banning non-mberems from playing team chess and it’s wordplay to suggest otherwise. A team turns up with a non-member, they might as well have defaulted because the game won’t be counted. Some leagues have already adopted such a rule, others are considering it. As CEO of the ECF, do you think that leagues adopting such a rule is(a) a good thing(b) a bad thing(c) don’t care?

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