Saturday,  July 14, 2001
M I N D  G A M E S

Game 2: The Alekhine attack

DURING a day’s break before the second game of the World Chess Championship between Deep Blue and Garry Kasparov, Campomanes is devising a strategy to put the Russian out of the tournament. He says to himself, "I will announce new rules for tomorrow's match by this evening. The computer will adapt, but Garry... ha, ha, ha!" At night, while the computer "relaxes", Kasparov is restless. He does not know what the board or the game will look like tomorrow, but he is no quitter. Then, he remembers the first game and his lips curve into the smile of a man who knows, after which, he looks heavenwards and goes to sleep.

He finds a regular chessboard at the match table the next day, but only five queen pieces near it. This makes him do what he rarely does in public — smile like a man who knows. Four gentlemen approach him and introduce themselves as Hsiung Hui, Murry Campbell, Joe Hoane and Chun-Jen-Tan before congratulating him for winning the first game. However, Garry’s eyes are fixed on two men who are sitting in the front row — Joel Benjamin and Frederic Friedel. Campomanes picks up the microphone again and announces, "Players have to place five queens on this chessboard, such that every square except those occupied by the queens is under attack."


While Deep Blue calculates, we enter Kasparov’s mind to know the secret of his smile. "I am fascinated by this classic contest between man and machine. A top chess player always remembers hundreds of games of his opponent and forms a battle strategy on the basis of these games. It is unnerving to play against an opponent about whom you know absolutely nothing, when you know that your opponent remembers every single game you ever played. If I give up now, humans should ask themselves whether they don’t need to redefine human rights while taking on machines. Last night, I talked to the spirit of Grandmaster Alexander Alekhine in my dream. He died impoverished and intoxicated in a Lisbon hotel in 1946, while still in possession of the world chess title. These games are based on his chess puzzles; I can tell. Alekhine’s attacks came suddenly, like destructive thunderstorms that erupted from a clear blue sky. This style of Alekhine was what I admired and wanted to develop in my own games."

The secret of his smile is now clear — he knows the puzzle. He places queens at positions b8, g7, a5, c4 and f3, which places every square, except the ones occupied by the queens, under attack. The machine is still calculating, unaware that it has lost. The four men, who had met him before the match, approach him again and say, "We are the makers of Deep Blue. We had programmed it for success and even hired Grandmaster Joel Benjamin to lend human intuition to it. How did you defeat it?" "I knew all of you and that you had hired Joel to outwit me, so, I hired legendary chess-computer expert, Frederic Friedel, to do likewise with the computer," says the man of few words, turning his opponents speechless.

— Aditya Rishi