February 7, 2003


Well, Garry Kasparov came up with a draw today against Deep Junior, in what seemed (to me, at least) to be a very strange ending. In a position he's very familiar with - a variation of his favorite opening to play as black, the Najdorf Sicilian - he made a characteristic sacrifice that the grandmasters commentating the game were enthusiastic about. Then, a couple of moves later, he offered a draw, which was declined; and then a few moves after that he offered again, and the computer accepted.

At the press conference afterwards, he had this to say:

Against any human player, I would continue fighting in the final position. Black is definitely not worse. But to win it would take a long, long time, and there is the pressure of playing the computer. The longer the game goes, the chance to blunder increases, and the computer will never make a big mistake. And a draw was a good result. Before the game the main item on my agenda was not to lose.

I came into this match wanting to dominate, but there is a gap between our desires and our abilities. I knew I would get good positions, but finishing these off is the hard part. [...] In game two I had a winning position and missed it. In game three I missed winning chances and then even blundered the draw. So I feel I outplayed it. To win the game today requires more energy and creativity than ever, and Junior symbolizes these advances. But it's still vulnerable, we saw some shortcomings here in thi match. We saw its strengths and weaknesses both. The machine will never collapse, but a human can never be so sure.

I have to register my acute disappointment not just at the draw (which was to be expected), but at the way it came about. This is not the Garry Kasparov I knew, the cocky young outsider who demoralized the reigning Russian grandmaster by sweating him through an endless series of draws. After this matchup, he was so mentally exhausted that he didn't play out a position where he had the upper hand - even when the match was on the line! The bit about the gap between our desires and abilities is really striking, beause a few years ago he'd never have questioned his own ability. It's sad to see someone debilitated to the point of complete surrender, especially someone like him.


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