X3D Fritz holds Kasparov to a draw in first game

Nov.11, 2003 – The first game of the Man-Machine World Chess Championship was a thrilling 37-move draw that kept the fans on the edge of their seats from the very first moves. Both man and machine played aggressive chess with none of the caution many expected in this initial encounter. After one game the match is tied, 0.5-0.5. X3D Fritz will have the white pieces in game two on Thursday.

[ Game one analysis and online replay ]

Kasparov had a slight advantage and was looking for more when X3D Fritz grabbed a pawn to put more pressure on the world #1. Kasparov sweated while his clock ticked down to 10 minutes and he couldn't find anything better than to allow X3D Fritz to force a draw by repetition of position.

The machine couldn't see any advantage for itself and accepted the tacit offer by repeating the position to draw the game on move 37, three moves before the time control at move 40 when the players would get another hour. In the final position Kasparov had a rook for a bishop and two pawns, which is generally considered material equality.

All smiles as the virtual reality battle begins.

The result of game one was a half-point each for Garry Kasparov and X3D Fritz. The split point doesn't mean the draw was of equal value to the players. In his post-game comments Kasparov expressed his dissatisfaction with failing to prosecute his advantage. Meanwhile the Fritz team were elated both with the result – a draw with the disadvantage of the black pieces – and with the exciting game.

Kasparov makes his point during the post-game analysis on ESPN. (l to r: Kasparov, GM Maurice Ashley, Paul Hoffman, GM Yasser Seirawan.)

Kasparov knew that his position was better for most of the game and regretted his inability to convert. "It took me a while to get settled in. I had to get used to the X3D technology, to get used to speaking my moves. All of these things made me a little uncomfortable at first. Despite that I came out with a good position. There were a few moments in which I could have improved. I had a solid position and it seems that X3D Fritz was over-estimating its position, which gave me chances."

Fritz creator and programmer Frans Morsch of the Netherlands said he was delighted with the game and the result. "We're very happy. It was a nice game, an exciting game. Kasparov could have continued but it would have been very difficult for him. I think he did the right thing in allowing the draw. X3D Fritz was in the same situation. It had to be careful; it would have been risky to continue."

The opening they played was the Slav Defense, selected by the X3D Fritz team and their opening expert Alex Kure. In fact, they played the exact same variation in which Kasparov had crushed his last computer opponent, Deep Junior, back in January.

Said Kure after the game, "We wanted to show that X3D Fritz could play it better than Junior. And that we weren't afraid of Kasparov's preparation even in a line he knows very well."

other news

Game one analysis and online replay
Opening ceremony photos and transcript
ESPN2 to show all four games live
Q&A with Garry Kasparov
Interview with ChessBase founder Frederic Friedel
Meet the match commentators
US Chess Federation | ChessBase
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