Saturday 8 April 2006

Archive: UNCUT! 47

The Sean Marsh Chess Column
*Column 47*
* *April 2006* *

The Human Touch
Part 1

Dear Readers,

All this talk of global warming and we still manage to get snow in April. It sometimes seems that the more things change, the more they stay as they are. For decades, humans persevered with projects to make computers play chess like humans. (Speaking of which…does anybody know what happened to Botvinnik’s famous long-term project?) It could never happen, of course. How can you create a chess computer that will make terrible blunders due to fatigue, overconfidence are any other of the all-too human characteristics we all share?
It seems that, for better or worse, computers will always lack the human touch.

Every human players blunders. There’s not much we can do to stop it, especially at the height of the battle, when nerves are on edge and judgements go bandy.

The only consolation is that even the very best players are not immune, as the following examples demonstrate…

Kostich - Rubinstein
Carlsbad 1911

The great Rubinstein - a player in one of the ‘great matches that never were’ when he never quite got the World title shot he deserved - is in trouble. He tries to defend by means of tactics. 35 …Ke6 36 Nd4+ Kxe5 37 Nxc2 Rb2 38.Rc5 Kd6 39.Rc8 Kd7 40.Rc3 d4 41.Rc4 d3...winning back the Knight, as planned, and drawing the game. However, 37 Nc6+ would have won the game in elementary fashion.

Ebralidze - Ragozin
USSR Championship 1937

Following a bit of mutual Rook attacking…
39.b3 Be7 40.Rd7 …Black sees a clever way to kick the Rook off the seventh rank.
40 …Rc7 Hoping for 41 Rxc7 Bd6+, winning back the Rook, but overlooking that the Bishop would be pinned out of action! Remarkably, White believed him and retreated with: 41.Rd5 Bf6 42.Nb5 Rc2+ 43.Kg3 a6 44.Rd7+ Ke8
Astonishing that White should blunder into the fork after all:

45.Rc7 Be5+ 0–1
It’s curious how so many of the blunders come in pairs.

Bohm - Korchnoi
Moscow 1975

‘Viktor the Terrible’ played 12 …Ne5, no doubt hoping to infiltrate on c4 at some point. White countered with 13 Qb3 but went on to lose. 13 Bxb6 and 14 f4 would have won a piece in board daylight.

Even Karpov, one of the coolest players at the board, is not immune to the occasional howler.

Christiansen - Karpov
Wijk aan Zee 1993

11...Bd6 12 Qd1! And a piece drops off. 1-0

Look, I’ll make you a deal. Send me some examples of your blunders, dear readers, and I shall present them in a future UNCUT! I know that, as in all best traditions, you’ll want me to show you mine before you show yours, so here we go….

Marsh - Muir
Walsall Kipping 1993

If my first round game with David Norwood hadn’t grabbed the attention of the world’s chess press and ensured my immortality (albeit as ‘N.N.’ on the wrong end of a brilliance) then I suspect this snippet would have enjoyed more prominence. I was on the verge of a good result when I slipped up with…

35 Ra8 Qe1 mate!

Over to you…come on, it’s good to get these things out in the open - send me your blunders NOW!

Sean Marsh

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