Comments and predictions

Nov. 10, 2003 – We aren't sure what is more interesting for the chess crowd, watching the match or making predictions about it. Do the experts know more than those who don't know a node count from a pawn? (Node count is roughly moves processed per second.) They certainly talk a good game!

Grandmaster Yasser Seirawan is a four-time US champion and will be one of the commentators at the match. He has a wealth of computer chess experience. Here is what "Yaz" had to say about the match.

"As always, I continue to champion Garry Kasparov in his duels with the silicon beast. In his recent match with Deep Junior, I felt that Garry comprehensively outplayed the computer in all of the games but the result was a surprising drawn match.

As a human, Garry is filled with emotions of elation and depression, carrying the baggage of past games and matches. It seems to me that he has a healthy fear of the computers' tactical ability while outplaying them strategically.

This weakness is sure to be a factor in the X3D Fritz encounter. If Garry can control his emotions, he is the favorite as he has been able to get the type of positions in which he excels. Much will depend on the openings. If the X3D Fritz programmers can throw some unusual defenses at Garry, it might pull off an upset. I predict a close match with Garry winning 2.5-1.5."

Grandmaster Maurice Ashley has commented just about every match in which Kasparov has faced a computer, going back to his battles with IBM's Deep Blue in the 90's. He shares the spotlight with Yasser in front of the ESPN2 cameras and the live audience. But he doesn't share his opinion!

"As much as I would like Kasparov to win, I don't think he will. I think he's stepped into a den of scorpions by playing a computer again, not his favorite thing to begin with, and doing it all in X3D. I think he's basically torturing himself. I'm not sure he's going to lose, but it will probably be decided on a serious Kasparov error. While I'm a big Kasparov fan –he's the best in the world – this is the wrong venue for him to prove his strength.

There is the potential for disaster, so I hope he's practiced and really thought it through. I wouldn't be surprised if he closed his eyes and played blindfolded. It's crazy for him to add extra challenges to the equation. One mistake and you're dead. So I think he's trying to pull a Houdini, or a David Blaine, on this one. I predict a drawn match or a win for X3D Fritz."

Grandmaster Lev Alburt, a celebrated chess author who collected three US Championship titles between 1984-90, took the middle road.

"I predict Kasparov will win 2.5-1.5. Playing in virtual reality will be a distraction but playing blindfold he would drop 300-400 points and this is much better than that. He can get the positions he wants, although the hard part will be converting them into wins."

Former Women's World Champion Grandmaster Susan Polgar was not at all shy about making a prediction. "Two-two, and I'll tell you why. I think Garry understands chess better and plays chess slightly better than X3D Fritz. On other hand he has a slight handicap, as he mentioned, with the glasses. If they played this on a regular board he would the favorite.

Computers make us play more precisely, to not gamble as much or play risky moves. If you do that the computer will punish you, even in your training. They improve the level of the game."

The Fans Speak!

The experts have spoken, but what about the amateurs? A poll in the message boards at the website largely reflected the opinions of the Grandmasters. The voting predicted a close match.

42% predicted 2.5-1.5 for Kasparov, 23% said the match would be drawn 2-2, and 18% thought it would go 1.5-2.5 in favor of X3D Fritz. Optimists for humanity made up the 13% who predicted 3-1 or better for Kasparov. Only 3% predicted 1-3 or better for X3D Fritz.

Here are a few of the hundreds of message board comments.

jsweet: "Kasparov is out for blood. He's in close to top form as a result of his training for the disintegrated match in Yalta. He took a lot of flak for drawing against Deep Junior, so this is an important vengeance match."

jackiechan: "Well, I've voted for a win for Kasparov. Not for the normal, sane reasons of form, past experience and plain old logic. No. He'll win because I'm gonna be there to watch him. :)"

Permanent_Brain: "He's gonna draw. Four draws (most likely)."

ChessOutpost: "I predicted a loss for Kaspy. The computer does not get intimidated, and I think he still cannot believe DJ8 played ..Bxh2+ to force a draw with in his last shot with the white pieces in their match. I think Garry will lose 1.5-2.5 to the silicon beast, but I am hoping for a sporting match that will positively influence public opinion about chess and start to draw more sponsors. I will be rooting for Kaspy though."

WillSurfForFood: "My prediction is Kasparov wins his fist game as white and draws all the other games."

Rust In Peace: "In all of his matches against computers, Kasparov comes out strong and usually wins one of the first games. I believe this November will be no exception. And since the match is only 4 games, and not the usual 6, Kasparov won't have the extra 2 games to get rattled by the computer's finesse, and after winning the first game, he will confidently cruise to victory by drawing the next three."

Proboscis: "If Kasparov can't beat the computer in normal 'familiar' surroundings, I don't see how he will stand a chance in this circus! The computer won't even realize that it is a circus and will play at its full strength! Kasparov will be happy to snatch a draw or two..."

inky1: "I think it all hinges on Kasparov's state of mind. If he is feeling upbeat - no computer is good enough to stop him."

Mark Schreiber: "I am rooting for the chess programmers."

ChessBum: "Simple: Kasparov is a killer of chess programs with the proper rest. Unlike the other tournaments he has played against computer programs, he will have plenty of rest between games. Kasparov: 3 X3D Fritz: 1"

Alonso Schmidt: "3 - 1 Kasparov vs Fritz!!"


other news

Miss NYC to open game three
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
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