Kasparov navigates through danger to draw game four and the match

Nov. 18, 2003 – Game four ended in a draw and with it the X3D Man-Machine World Chess Championship match also ended in draw. X3D Fritz won game two, Kasparov won game three, and games one and four were drawn. Kasparov receives $175,000 for the result and also takes home the golden trophy. (Although since it drew the match X3D Fritz said it was going to store a virtual reality copy of the trophy for itself.)

Before today's critical final game Garry Kasparov said he just wanted to play good chess and that he didn't consider it a must-win. "Of course I'll play for a win if I get chances, but with black it is very risky to push too hard. I'll play the best moves." Today the best moves led to the shortest game of the match, a 27-move draw that ended in a completely simplified position without chances for either side.

[ In-depth analysis of game four ]

Kasparov earned the trophy by walking a very narrow path in a dangerous position out of the opening phase in game four. The opening was the same line that Kasparov used to crush world #2 Vladimir Kramnik in a game of blitz chess (five minutes per player) in their 2001 match in Moscow. No one has had the courage to repeat it since then, but it was exactly the sort of wild and tactical chess X3D Fritz would love. Would Kasparov allow himself to be drawn into fighting with the computer's choice of weapons?

The answer came after a deep think of nearly 20 minutes by Kasparov. Instead of giving up his queen as he did against Kramnik, he played 13...exd5 and headed into complications with equal material. Computers are particularly deadly with the powerful queen in open positions and Kasparov could trust that it would play much stronger than Kramnik had back in 2001 in a speed game.

The line selected by Kasparov had been tried before, including in a game at the top level two years ago. (And also including a game played by one of Kasparov's former GM analysts in 2001! Game four followed that one all the way to move 18.) There was still considerable danger for Black but Kasparov navigated through the rocks and embarked on a plan of exchanges to lower the chances of slipping up. The world #1 played a precise series of moves to escape from the many traps the ESPN2 commentary team was pointing out.

With each exchange it became clearer that X3D Fritz's advantage was leaving the board along with all the pieces and pawns. Kasparov had seen further and there was no good way for the machine to diverge from the path Kasparov had foreseen. This led to a dead-drawn position and the game was ended by mutual agreement.

L to r: X3D CEO Eliot Klein, Garry Kasparov, ChessBase founder Frederic Friedel

The drawn match is both satisfying and unsatisfying to both players. Team Fritz and Kasparov seemed to take the "glass half-full" perspective afterwards. X3D Fritz creator Frans Morsch said he had hoped for more with the white pieces in the final game, but that he was happy that all the games had been interesting and a drawn match with the world's greatest player was an honor.

Kasparov continued to criticize the blunder in the second game that cost him a crucial point. He felt that he had outplayed the machine overall and played well. "I only made one mistake but unfortunately that one mistake lost the game."

Much more coming soon from New York, including analysis and transcripts of Kasparov's post-game press conference and Q&A session.


other news

Opening ceremony photos and transcript
Analysis of game three
Analysis of game four
Report on game three from New York City
Report on game two from New York City
Q&A with Garry Kasparov
Report on game one from New York City
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