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A FOUR-YEAR-OLD NIECE  (30 september 2007)

In March 1982, Dutch grandmaster Donner played a game of chess against Belle, one of the strongest chess programs at the time). After the game was played, Donner is reputed to have said something like "Even my four-year-old niece plays better."

J.H. Donner

It can be doubted if the computer really played as poorly as Donner's words suggest. If you want to see for yourself, here is the game:

Delft, 5 March 1982

White: J.H. Donner

Black: Belle

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 Nbd7 6.e3 Qa5 7.Nd2 Bb4 8.Qc2 O-O 9.Be2 dxc4 10.Bxf6 Nxf6 11.Nxc4 Qc7 12.O-O Rd8 13.a3 Be7 14.b4 b6 15.Rfc1 Bb7 16.Bf3 a6 17.Rab1 Nd7 18.a4 Rab8 19.g3 Kh8 20.Bg2 f5 21.Ne2 Re8 22.Nf4 Bg5 23.Nd3 Bf6 24.f4 Rec8 25.a5 b5 26.Nd2 Ba8 27.Nb3 Qa7 28.Qe2 Rc7 29.Nbc5 Nf8 30.Rc2 Re8 31.Rbc1 Kg8 32.Bf3 Rd8 33.g4 Rdc8 34.Rc3 fxg4 35.Bxg4 Re7 36.Qa2 Rce8 37.f5 Rd8 38.Nf4 Bxd4 39.exd4 Rxd4 40.f6 Rxf4 41.fxe7 Rxg4+ 42.Rg3 Rxg3+ 43.hxg3 Qxe7 44.Qd2 h6 45.Rd1 Qe8 46.Qd6 e5 47.Qc7 Qh5 48.Rf1 Qe8 49.Qd6 e4 50.Rf4 e3 51.Re4 Qc8 52.Rxe3 h5 53.Re7 Qf5 54.Qf4 Qg6 55.Ra7 Qe8 56.Qd4 Qg6

With Java installed on your computer, you can see this game move by move.

... and white wins.

          * * *

I had to think of Donner's words when I was playing games for the Overtom Chess Computer Museum .

Recently, a new feature was introduced to the Museum: I'm trying to present one example game with each of the computers. Since the collection consists of 320 computers, they'll have to play more than three hundred games -- and I am the one who has to do all the physical work

Please don't think I'm complaining. Some of the games are quite enjoyable! For instance, yesterday I got the Scisys Executive (1981) out of its box in order to play a game against Fritz-one-ply.

The two computers played the following game (with black):

White: Fritz-one-ply

Black: Scisys Executive (10 seconds / move

1. e4 e6 2. d4 Bb4+ 3. c3 Be7 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. Nbd2 d5 6. Bd3 dxe4 7. Bxe4 f5 8. Bxc6+ bxc6 9. Ne5 c5 10. Qh5+ Kf8 11. Qf7+

With Java installed on your computer, you can see this game move by move.

Isn't that brilliantly stupid?

You can imagine the compulsive thought that entered my mind when I witnessed this game: would Donner be right after all?

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