chess

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Mind Games - PaulBroekhuyse paulbroekhuyse@gmail.com

Com­put­ers have been dom­i­nat­ing chess for some time but now they’re ven­tur­ing into new and con­tro­ver­sial ter­ri­tory: aes­thet­ics.

Malaysian aca­demic Pro­fes­sor Azlan Iqbal has cre­ated a pro­gram, Ch­es­thet­ica, that cre­ates orig­i­nal chess prob­lems from scratch. That’s not so sur­pris­ing, but Ch­es­thet­ica aims to cre­ate puzzles that are not only chal­leng­ing and tech­ni­cally cor­rect but “beau­ti­ful” as well. And not ev­ery­body agrees with the re­sults.

Marjan Ko­vace­vic, a chess jour­nal­ist and chess prob­lem grand­mas­ter (yes, there are such things), launched a blis­ter­ing at­tack online: “Have you ever got an ob­jec­tive eval­u­a­tion of these ‘cre­ations’?” he growled, refer­ing to Ch­es­thet­ica’s out­put. “They have very lit­tle in com­mon with the the­ory of prob­lem chess, with its stan­dards of beauty and qual­ity. In re­al­ity, they are 170 years be­hind the real de­vel­op­ment of chess com­po­si­tion, not to talk about re­cent com­puter find­ings.”

It’s hard to ad­ju­di­cate such dis­putes. But even if Ch­es­thet­ica’s cur­rent ef­forts aren’t ex­actly oil paint­ings, history sug­gests that with com­put­ers, it’s only a mat­ter of time. Stay tuned.

In other news, the 2015 FIDE World Chess Cup is un­der way in Baku, Azer­bai­jan. It’s a huge 128-player knock­out event fea­tur­ing some of the best play­ers in the world, along with qual­i­fiers from ev­ery con­ti­nent. At stake is a $US120,000 first prize, and even the losers are gen­er­ously com­pen­sated from a $US1.6 mil­lion prize fund. The win­ner and run­ner-up qual­ify for next year’s Can­di­dates Tour­na­ment, which will de­ter­mine the chal­lenger for the world cham­pi­onship. The con­tes­tants play two games against each other, one with white and one with black. Ties are set­tled by play-offs at fast time lim­its. Or­gan­is­ers have gone to ex­tra or­di­nary lengths to avoid cheat­ing with elec­tronic de­vices: even watches and pens will not be al­lowed in the play­ing hall. In­stead, play­ers will have to use the of­fi­cial pens to fill in their score­sheets.

Af­ter just one round there have al­ready been some big sur­prises. Chi­nese star Ni Hua (rated 2700) was elim­i­nated by Ar­gentina’s San­dro Mareco, and two Amer­i­can hopes are also out: prodigy Ray Rob­son and for­mer World Cup win­ner and world cham­pi­onship con­tender Gata Kam­sky. In the round 1 tie-breaks, 18-year old Chilean prodigy Cris­to­bal Hen­riquez Vil­la­gra beat for­mer World Cup win­ner Boris Gelfand, and another pre­vi­ous World Cup win­ner, Rus­tam Kasimdzhanov, lost to Ko­va­lyov. Aus­tralia’s en­trant, In­ter­na­tional Master Max Illing­worth, was elim­i­nated 1.5–0.5 in round 1 by In­dian Grand­mas­ter Pen­tala Harikr­ishna, who is much higher rated.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Nd7 4.O-O Nf6 5.Re1 a6 6.

Bd3 b5 7.c4 g5!? (This looks strange, but black ends up trad­ing a side pawn for a more cen­tral pawn, which is of­ten good, and gets play down the g-file) 8.Nxg5 Ne5 9.Be2

bxc4 10.Na3 Rg8 11.Nxc4?! (Seek­ing to pun­ish black’s weird moves, the world cham­pion tries a piece sac­ri­fice) Nxc4 12.d4!? Nb6 13.Bh5 Nxh5 14.Qxh5 Rg7 15.Nxh7 (White has some com­pen­sa­tion for the piece) Qd7! 16.

dxc5 (If 16.Nxf8 Qh3! forces the queens offff and leads to a

draw) dxc5 17.e5 Qc6 18.f3 Qg6! 19.Nf6+ (See di­a­gram) Kd8! 20.Qxg6 Rxg6 21.Ne4 Bb7 22.h4 Rc8 23.h5 Rg8 24.Bd2 Nc4 25.Bc3 Bh6 26.Rad1+ Ke8 27.Rd3 Bf4 28. Nf2 Bc6 29.Nh3 Bg3 30.Re2 Bb5 31.Rd1 Bc6 32.Nf2 Bxe5! 33.Ng4 (If 33.Bxe5 Bxf3) Bxc3 34.bxc3 Kf8 35.Kf2 Rh8 36.Ne5 Nxe5 37.Rxe5 Be8 38.g4 f6 39.Re6 Bb5 40.Rde1 Rc7 0-1

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