Sunday, January 9, 2011

Artificial Ignorance (Part 2)

The Wikipedia entry for the computer program Chess Titans (see "Artificial Ignorance Part 1"), which comes with the Windows 7 operating system, includes this dead-pan bit of information
Chess Titans has been criticized for being less sophisticated than other chess video games. However, while its algorithms may not be as sophisticated, it is still a good game for beginners or those wanting a refresher.
Chess Titans has also been criticized for having bugs that allow the computer to cheat. However, this criticism is generally unfounded and often comes from beginners who are unfamiliar with more artisan moves such as castling and en passant.
My son was pleased that the program was willing to answer his 1.e4 with 1..e5 (I haven't shown him the "Sicilian Jerome Gambit" yet), and he quickly went about offering the computer "Jerome Gambit odds".

Jon - Chess Titans
casual game, 2011

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ke6

Book or calculation? The computer chooses a fighting line.

7.Qf5+ Kd6 8.Nc3

Checking The Database I see that this line scored 23% in 45 games. This game gives it a nudge upward.


This "theoretical novelty", however, restores White's chances to a-little-better-than-even. It is hard to see where the move came from, as the psychology of the "Anti-Bill Wall Gambit" and its relatives is largely a human phenomenon.

Certainly 8...Qf6, instead, was the way to go for Black.

9.Qxf2 g6

More strangeness, and now White is winning, as he quickly shows.

10.Qd4+ Ke6 11.0-0

Castling his King into safety, developing his King Rook and following the advice restrain the King, then checkmate him. It is a shame to have to point out that 11.Qd5+ first, and after 11...Kf6 then 12.0-0+ was stronger, e.g. 12...Kg7 13.Qxe5+ Nf6 and White's build-up of attack on the pinned Knight will be decisive.


One step too far. 

12.exd5+ Ke7

Opting for a quick end.

Instead, 12...Kd6 13.Nb5+ Ke7 14.Qxe5+ Kd7 15.Qe6 checkmate lasts a bit longer.

"Best" is defending with 12...Kd7 but after 13.Qxe5 White is threatening both material gain and checkmate, and Black's survival (however long he lasts) will be a tortured one. 

13.Qxe5+ Be6 14.Qxe6 checkmate

 (Hey, Boss, look out!)

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