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Smirin Interesting interview below with Smirin, after his win over the programs!

Best wishes

Smirin had won numerous prestigious international chess competitions, including the first league of the USSR Championship (1987, 1989), the Israel Championship (1992,1994,1999), and the qualifying tournaments for the 1994 and 1995 PCA World Grand Prix. In 2000 he won the prestigious NY Open and Dos Hermanas 2001. A world-class opponent who also has a bit of experience with computers. And one who was warned by the experience of his colleague Gulko. His opponents were:

Deep Junior – the reigning computer world champion, by Amir Ban & Shay Bushinsky of Israel;
Deep Shredder 6.02 – reigning single processor world champion, by Stefan Meyer-Kahlen, Germany, in a new, improved version.
Chess Tiger – top program by Christophe Théron, which has played a sensational 2788 performance in an Argentinean GM tournament.
Hiarcs – new version of the English program best known for its strong positional play, by Mark Uniacke, England.
Gambit Tiger played in place of Fritz 7, which had done well against Gulko (1.5:0.5) but was taking a break to allow its colleague from Guadeloupe to try it's luck. Fritz also has to prepare for the match against Vladimir Kramnik in October. It is clear that ChessBase is not eager to produce too many "how to beat Fritz" games before the big event.

The report contains a round by round description and annotated games. At the end there is an interview with the hero of the event. Here are some excerpts:

Question: Are you satisfied with the final result?

Smirin: I think the outcome of the match reflected more or less accurately its character. I mean I won two games, one of which (second encounter with Tiger) I had a quite dubious position at some stage and then managed to outplay the program in tactical complications. I saved one objectively lost position versus Hiarcs, and was saved in one lost position versus Junior. But I spoiled at least two winning positions myself, so I feel in this sense we are even! And if you ask me whether I am satisfied with my result in general, the answer would be yes, I am! Before the match I was expecting the worst and suspected that what happened to Gulko might happen to me as well, mainly due to very little experience I have accumulated in the computer chess in the past. The last time I played computers was back in 1995-1996. But I grew confident as the contest was in progress, and frankly speaking, I think the outcome could be even more convincing when I look at it now! Somehow it seemed to me that the computers are stronger when I was analyzing Gulko's games.

Question: Were you surprised by the level of your computer opponents?

Smirin: As a matter of fact I was! This match has revealed that chess programs have extremely strong and extremely weak sides. I was expecting more "stable" performance, if I may call it this way. Some aspects of chess program's play are still calling for serious improvement; such as its incapability to carry out a long-term plan, even if this plan is simple enough. I also see room for improvement in the computer's way of thinking in closed position, which is quite primitive and naive, while his level of play in open positions is simply outstanding!

Question: Is the colour of the pieces that significant versus computers?

Smirin: Yes, it makes a huge difference to play against a computer with black or white! With white it is much easier to drag it into kinds of positions you want to without taking too many risks, while with black you have to go intentionally for much worse positions (which you assume is suitable to play versus computer) and try to outplay the program in it. I don't like this strategy and didn't use it in my match sticking to my original opening schemes such as King's Indian Defense versus d4 and going for 1...e5 versus 1.e4, which I had prepared.

Question: Do you feel you played different chess?

Smirin: Yes, I played a different kind of chess. I've got to admit that on the one hand it was an extremely interesting experience for me and I kind of enjoyed it. But on the other hand there were a lot of elements inherent to "human" chess I missed in this contest: as I previously told you, I had to limit myself to a certain way of thinking in order to avoid complications and sharp tactical struggle (even if it clearly favours you!), which made the games less attractive to the audience. The thing I missed the most in this contest is a clash of two intellects, two personalities, two energies which can be found only in "human" chess!

What moment of the match do you remember the most?

Smirin: My white game versus Tiger, it's no doubt about that one! It's always nice to beat your opponent "on his field". I managed to find a very nice combination, when in one of its main variations, black is left with a rook and two bishops versus a lonely knight of white, but he is helpless to stop the passed pawn!

This interview first appeared on the Kasparov Chess web site and was conducted by KC editor Alex Finkel..