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Monday, December 11, 2017

One Little Mistake and a Heartbreaking Loss

    Las Palmas is a city and capital of Gran Canaria island in the Canary Islands and it is noted for its warm temperatures throughout the year with an average annual temperature of 70.2 degrees F (21.2 C) and according to a study carried out by Thomas Whitmore, director of research on climatology at Syracuse University in the US, Las Palmas enjoys the best climate in the world.
     A strong, and as far as I remember not widely covered, tournament was held there in 1975. The winner was Ljubomir Ljubojevic (born 1950) in Yugoslavia. He was awarded the GM title in 1971. For a brief period he was rated as one of the strongest players in the world; in1983 he was ranked third, but never succeeded in reaching the Candidates stage for the World Championship. Chess News has an interview with him HERE.
     I have done a couple of posts on Mecking HERE and HERE. His opponent in this game is less well known. Orestes Rodriguez Vargas (born July 4, 1943) is a Peruvian who plays for the Spanish Chess Federation. In the 1960s he set a goal for himself to become a GM, but was not awarded the title until 1978. He moved to Spain in 1973 and played for the Spanish team championships had great success in those events.
     He participated in a total of seven chess Olympiads, scoring +42 -14 = 34. His first Olympiad was the 1964 Olympics in Tel Aviv , where he played on the fourth board for the Peruvian team. In 1970, 1972, 1978 and 1986 he played on first board for Peru and in 1988 on second board. At the 1992 Olympics in Manila, he played for Spain on fourth board. His biggest Olympiad success was an individual silver medal in 1978 in Buenos Aires for his score of 8 out of 10 on first board.
     He won the Peruvian championship five times in a row from 1968 to 1972. He played in the Senior European Championships in 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009. At the 9th Open European Senior Championship he scored 8.5-0.5 and finished ahead of Viktor Korchnoi. He has not played since 2013.

1) Ljubomir Ljubojevic 11.0
2-3) Mikhail Tal, Henrique Mecking and Ulf Andersson 10.0
4-5) Vlastimil Hort and Fridrik Olafsson 9.5
6) Tigran Petrosian 9.0
7-8) StefanoTatai and Juan Bellon Lopez 6.5
9-11) Arturo Pomar, Orestes Rodriguez and Radolfo Tan Cardoso 4.5
12) Fernando Visier 4.0
13) Roberto Debarnot 3.0
14) A. Fernandez 2.5

     Rodriguez' game against Mecking was an exciting one; a piece sacrifice lead to a strong attack, but things went awry and he lost due to a miscalculation. When Andrew Soltis annotated a fragment of this game in his book The Inner Game of Chess he included the position in the section “Choice” in which he discussed situations where the position offers a choice of two or more moves and they all look equally good. At the end of the chapter he concluded “There are a lot of ways to miscalculate.” In the following two chapters he took a look at a few of them. The book was published in 1994 when chess engines were beginning to come into their own and I don't know if Soltis used an engine for help in preparing the book, but his analysis was spot on.
     In 1993 Judit Polgar lost to Deep Thought in a 30 minute game. Also in 1993 in a 5-minute tournament (humans had 6-minutes) in Munich, Kasparov lost to Fritz 3. The program also defeated Anand, Short, Gelfand and Kramnik. Robert Huebner refused to play the program and forfeited his game. Kasparov played a second match with Fritz 3 and won, scoring +4 -0 =2. 
    In the 1994 Intel Speed Chess Grand Prix in London, Kasparov was eliminated from the tournament when he lost to Chess Genius in a 25 minute game and WCHESS became the first computer to outperform GMs at the Harvard Cup in Boston.
    The 1993 tournament in Munich created a lot of interest. On May 20th, 1994 two minutes after beating his eighth opponent in a row, Kasparov, the reigning world champion, sat down in front of a computer monitor to play Fritz 3. Up to that point Kasparov had beaten every computer he had played and so was confident this game would be no different.
     Using computer anti-strategy he opened with 1.e3. Karpov said, “It's a good move." Robert Byrne agreed adding, “if you know what your adversary is going to do wrong." Kasparov knew what Fritz was going to do wrong because the man behind the engine, Frederic Friedal, had let Kasparov practice against Fritz.
     The opening, as Kasparov expected, transposed in to QGA. Kasparov expected an easy game, but Fritz surprised him when it counterattacked. Kasparov needed time to figure things out, but in blitz there isn't any and at move 15, Kasparov missed a move and his mistake was so glaring that GMs gasped and women fainted.
     But the game wasn't over. Fritz soon lost a piece and the endgame looked fairly even. Running out of time, Kasparov was hurried and he blundered for a second time. But Fritz knew how to win the ending so Kasparov angrily resigned.
     Shortly after that he played Fritz in a match and won handily. Later he commented, "In blitz, there's too much inner pressure on any player." Kasparov later commented that the greatest pressure of all is that computers can see more deeply into the endgame than humans and they see into it better than humans with terrifying accuracy...exactly when accuracy is of utmost importance.
     The chess programmers predicted that in the endgame, humanity was doomed. Larry Kaufmann, who was to later develop Komodo concurred. At the time Kaufman was the developer of the Socrates program which was one of the top-20 commercially available chess programs. Kaufmann said, "After 50 years, there's not going to be much left in the intellectual area that computers can't do better than people."
     Kasparov once retorted when asked if a computer could beat him, "That's impossible." He added "The real fight will be action chess, 25-minute games." Soon afterwards in the 1994 Intel Speed Chess Grand Prix in London, Kasparov was eliminated from the tournament when he lost to Chess genius in a 25 minute game. His next claim was, "In serious, classical chess, computers do not have a chance in this century. I will personally take any challenge." We all know what happened next. Kasparov won a match against Deep Blue in 1996, but he suffered the first defeat of a reigning world champion by a computer under tournament conditions the following year.
     OK, so I got sidetracked on engines for a minute. This game was extremely complicated and it's a shame Orestes Rodriguez Vargas missed 19...h6. One little mistake cost him a brilliant win.

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