In Greek mythology, the monster with multiple heads, Hydra, was defeated by Herakles. Last week in London, Hydra came to life breathing a deadly venom on England's top grandmaster, Michael Adams, who is rated No. 7 in the world.
Hydra is an extremely powerful chess computer program that sits in Abu Dhabi but was put together by an international crew, mostly from Western Europe. It has never lost to a human opponent in over-the-board games. It calculates some 200 million moves per second and looks invincible in the six-game "Man vs. Machine" match against Adams. Yesterday, after five games, the monster machine had won four, allowing Adams a single draw. Especially impressive was Hydra's win in the third game in the Spanish Opening.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.d4 (This central advance is usually prepared by 9.h3.) 9...Bg4 (In the 1920s, Efim Bogoljubov believed that this bishop pin, applying an uncomfortable pressure on white's center, refutes the 9.d4 variation.) 10.d5 Na5 11.Bc2 c6 12.h3!? (A favored variation of three-time Soviet champion Leonid Stein.) 12...Bc8 (There is a reason behind this long retreat, since 12...Bd7 allows the Capablanca-like combination 13.Nxe5! dxe5 14.d6, giving white the advantage of a bishop pair and more pleasant game. Picking up a pawn after 12...Bxf3 13.Qxf3 cxd5 14.exd5 Nc4 15.Nd2 Nb6 16.Nf1 Nbxd5 could be dangerous to black, for example after 17.Ng3 g6 18.Bh6 Re8 19.Rad1 Nc7 20.Nf5 Ne6 21.Rxe5 gxf5 22.Rxe6 fxe6 23.Qg3+ Ng4 24.hxg4 Bh4 25.Qf4 fxg4 26.Qxg4+, black resigned in Hracek-Kosashvili, Arnhem 1989.) 13.dxc6 Qc7!? 14.Nbd2 Qxc6 15.Nf1 Be6 (In the game Stein-Kavalek, Caracas 1970, 15...Nc4 prevented 16.Ne3. It was later adopted by world champion Boris Spassky against Jan Timman, Montreal 1979, where after 16.Ng3 Re8 17.a4 Bb7 18.Bd3 Bf8 19.Qe2 d5! black equalized.)
16.Ng5 Bd8?! (Perhaps Adams thought that he should have surprised the machine with something new, but this is an unfortunate novelty. The bishop is often needed on f8 to protect the black king and the pawn d6. Two bishop moves, 16...Bc8 and 16...Bd7, did well in the past. Also playable was 16...h6 17.Nxe6 fxe6 and the black pawns cover many squares in the center.) 17.Ne3 Bd7 (Trying to improve the bishop with 17...Bb6 is strongly answered by 18.Nd5!) 18.a4! (Threatening to open the queenside at the right moment.) 18...h6 19.Nf3 Rc8 (Not playable is 19...Nxe4? 20.axb5 axb5 21.Bxe4 Qxe4 22.b4! and the knight on a5 is caught, since after 22...Nc4 23.Nxc4 wins. After 19...Bb6 white begins a kingside attack with 20.Nh4! and preventing white's knight to land on f5 with 20...g6 is met with 21.Nd5! and white wins.) 20.axb5! axb5 21.Nh4! (Aiming to direct the attack from the square f5.) 21...Nc4 (Black still can't touch the pawn on e4, since after 21...Nxe4? 22.Nef5 d5 23.Bxe4 dxe4 24.Rxa5! wins.) 22.Nxc4 bxc4 (Black has to allow the exchange of light bishops because the pawn on d6 is not defended and he can't play 22...Qxc4. It gives white a strong control over the vital light squares on the kingside.) 23.Ba4! Qc7 24.Bxd7 Qxd7 25.Nf5 d5 (Opening the sixth rank for the white rook. But 25...Nxe4? runs into a known double-attack 26.Qg4!, threatening 27.Qg7 mate and 27.Nxh6+ winning the black queen. Protecting the d-pawn with 25...Rc6 allows 26.Qf3 Kh7 27.Rd1! black is tied up and white can follow up with 28.Be3 and 29.Ra7.)
26.Ra6! (One of the fastest deployments of the queenside rook in a kingside attack that I have ever seen. White threatens 27.Rd6, destroying black's pawn center. Preventing it with 27...Bc7? runs into 28.Rxf6! gxf6 29.Qg4+ and 30.Qg7 mate.) 26...Qb7 (Black is in trouble after 26...dxe4 27.Qxd7 Nxd7 28.Rxe4, threatening 29.Nd6 to win the pawn on c4. After 26...Rc6 27.Rxc6 Qxc6 28.exd5 the pawn on e5 is hanging.) 27.Rd6! (The black center is falling apart.) 27...Be7 (White's powerful attack decides either after 27...Nxe4 28.Rxe4! dxe4 29.Bxh6! gxh6 30.Rxh6 Bg5 31.Rh8+! ; or after 27...dxe4 28.Bxh6! gxh6 29.Qd2! Nh7 30.Qxh6 f6 31.Red1 with a deadly threat 32.Rd7.) 28.Bxh6! (A well-calculated epilogue that a speedy Hydra machine does not miss. Black is lost, for example 28...gxh6 29.Qf3! Nxe4 [on 29...Nh7 comes 30.Rxh6 threatening 31.Rxh7!] 30.Nxh6+ Kh7 31.Qf5+ Kg7 32.Rxe4! dxe4 33.Qg4+ Kh7 34.Nf5 and white mates; or 28...Bxd6 29.Bxg7 Ne8 [on 29...Be7 30.Bxf6 Bxf6 31.Qg4+ Kh7 32.Re3! wins.] 30.Nxd6 Nxd6 31.Bf6 and the white queen delivers the final blow; or 28...Nxe4 29.Bxg7 Nxd6 30.Qh5 f6 31.Qg6! Nxf5 32.Bxf6+ Ng7 33.Qxg7 mate.) Black resigns.
The Swiss open tournament, played June 17-19 in Springfield and honoring International Master and four-time Virginia champion Richard Delaune, ended in a four-way tie for first place among grandmasters Alek Wojtkiewicz, Joel Benjamin, John Fedorowicz and John Meyer. They each scored four points in five games. Solution to today's study by Kremer and Rutgen (White: Kf7,P:h5,h6; Black: Kh8, P:g5): 1.Kf6! (Not 1.Kg6? g4 2.h7 g3 3.Kh6 g2 and black wins.) 1...g4 2.Kg6 g3 (or 2...Kg8 3.h7+ Kh8 4.Kh6 g3 5.Kg6 g2 6.Kh6 draw.) 3.h7 g2 4.Kh6 g1Q or R stalemate.