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Einstein plays chess  (22 January 2009)

There seems to be little doubt that Albert Einstein (1879-1955) could play chess. But there may be some discussion about the question how well he played.

Albert EinsteinSome Internet pages suggest Einstein was an active player and always had a chessboard set up at his home (click).

Einstein seems to have known Emanuel Lasker, but there is no proof that they ever played chess together.

As far as I know, only one game has been preserved that is attributed to Einstein

The game seems to have been played in Princeton, USA in 1933. On the 24th move, Robert Oppenheimer, who played with black, resigned.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 b5 5. Bb3 Nf6 6. O-O Nxe4 7. Re1 d5 8. a4 b4 9. d3 Nc5 10. Nxe5 Ne7 11. Qf3 f6 12. Qh5+ g6 13. Nxg6 hxg6 14. Qxh8 Nxb3 15. cxb3 Qd6 16. Bh6 Kd7 17. Bxf8 Bb7 18. Qg7 Re8 19. Nd2 c5 20. Rad1 a5 21. Nc4 dxc4 22. dxc4 Qxd1 23. Rxd1+ Kc8 24. Bxe7 An animation of the game can be seen if you have Java installed.

Judging from this game we may safely assume that Oppenheimer was not a very strong player. This is confirmed by another game (click).

Einstein's game does show that Einstein was not a beginner, but how strong a player he was is difficult to conclude from this one game.

* * *

Excalibur Einstein Touch Chess A few months ago, Excalibur Electronics produced a chess computer by the name of Einstein Touch Chess. The computer has a slick-looking rectangular housing and sports an LCD touch screen. It is small enough (11 x 8 cm.) to carry around so that it can for instance be used on the train or in a waiting-room.

If you want to replace the batteries, you'll have to unscrew two compartments, for the two AAA batteries are housed separately on either side of the screen.

Needless to say I wanted to see if the computer played like the genius it was named after.

White: Fritz 8 (1 ply)
Black: Einstein Touch Chess (± 10 seconds / move)

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Be2 Nxd4 7.Qxd4 e5 8.Qd3 Be7 9.O-O O-O 10.Be3 Ng4 11.Bd2 Nf6 12.Rad1 Bd7 13.Be3 Ng4 14.Bd2 Nf6 15.Bg5 Kh8 16.a3 Qc8 17.Be3 Ng4 18.Bd2 Nf6 19.Bg5 b6 20.Qg3 Rg8 21.Bxf6 gxf6 22.Qh4 Be6 23.f4 Bh3 24.Rf2 exf4 25.Qxf4 Be6 26.Nd5 Bxd5 27.Rxd5 Qxc2 28.b4 Qc3 29.Ba6 Qxa3 30.b5 Qa1+ 31.Rf1 Qb2 32.Qf3 Rxg2+ 33.Qxg2 Rg8 34.Qg3 Rxg3+ 35.hxg3 Qc2 36.Rd4 Qc3 37.Rfd1 Qxg3+ 38.Kh1 Qh3+ 39.Kg1 d5 40.exd5 Bc5 41.Kf2 Qg4 42.Ke3 Qxd1 43.Bb7 Qxd4+ 44.Kf3 Qd3+ 45.Kg4 h5+ 46.Kh4 Bf2+ 47.Kxh5 Qg6# An animation of the game can be seen if you have Java installed.

White: Fritz 8 (1 ply)
Black: Einstein Touch Chess (± 10 seconds / move)

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.h4 h6 7.Nf3 Nd7 8.h5 Bh7 9.Bd3 Bxd3 10.Qxd3 Qc7 11.Rh4 O-O-O 12.Nf5 e6 13.Ne3 Ngf6 14.Qc3 g6 15.hxg6 fxg6 16.Nc4 Nd5 17.Qb3 Bb4+ 18.c3 Bf8 19.Nfe5 Nxe5 20.Nxe5 Qg7 21.Bf4 g5 22.Nxc6 Nxf4 23.Nxa7+ Kc7 24.Nb5+ Kb8 25.Rh2 Nd3+ 26.Kf1 e5 27.Rd1 e4 28.Qa4 Be7 29.Qa7+ Kc8 30.Qa8+ Kd7 31.Qxb7+ Ke8 32.Qxe4 Nxb2 33.Rd2 Na4 34.c4 Nc5 35.Qe2 Na6 36.Kg1 Nc5 37.a3 Rd7 38.a4 Nxa4 39.Qe6 Nc5 40.Qc6 Bf8 41.Re2+ Kf7 42.Qf3+ Kg8 43.Re8 Rf7 44.Qd5 Nb7 45.c5 Qf6 46.f3 Qg6 47.Nc3 Qc2 48.Ne4 Qb1+ 49.Kf2 Qb2+ 50.Kg3 Qc1 51.Kh3 Qa3 52.Rh1 Qa5 53.Rd1 Qa4 54.Nf6+ Kg7 55.Nh5+ Kg8 56.Rde1 Qc2 57.R1e7 Qg6 58.Ng3 Na5 59.c6 Rhh7 60.c7 g4+ 61.Kh2 Qc6 62.Rxf8+ Kxf8 63.Rxf7+ Rxf7 64.Qxc6 Nxc6 65.c8=Q+ Ke7 66.Qxc6 gxf3 67.gxf3 Kd8 68.Qd6+ Rd7 69.Qb8+ Ke7 70.Nf5+ Kf6 71.Qe5+ Kf7 72.Nd6+ Rxd6 73.Qxd6 Kg7 74.Qe7+ Kg6 75.d5 Kf5 76.d6 Kf4 77.Qf6+ Ke3 78.d7 h5 79.d8=Q h4 80.Qd5 h3 81.Kxh3 Ke2 82.f4 Ke1 83.Qe7+ Kf1 84.Qg2# An animation of the game can be seen if you have Java installed.

In fact, the computers played four games; half were won by Einstein, and Fritz-one-ply won the other half. If you want to see all the games, just click here.

Four games is not enough to judge the Elo rating of a computer, but I would think it would be somewhere between 1400 and 1500.

Probably nice enough for most occasional players. But not a genius!

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