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In the intervening 20 years, computer programs have developed at such a pace that the difference in chess ratings between those “things” and the world’s current top player, Magnus Carlsen, is about as wide as between me (a mere county-standard player) and a strong grandmaster. In other words, they are completely invincible.

Some see this as “the death of chess”. But while there have been sad consequences — something of the mystery of the game has been destroyed and with it the mystique of the greatest human players — more young people than ever are playing and enjoying the game. And while it is true that both the opening stages of the game and the endings have been increasingly solved by the programmers, the middle-game is still delightfully obscure: we remain enthralled by the creativity shown by humankind as they battle for intellectual supremacy over the 64 squares. And chess remains, as I wrote in my very first column, “beautiful enough to waste your life for”.

Here, then, is the final game from the 1997 match that ended the chessboard supremacy of carbon over silicon. 1.e4 c6 (Kasparov plays the Caro-Kann Defence; far from his usual choice, but apparently suitable against his non-human challenger) 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Ng5 (This looks strange, but there is a point, as we will see) Ngf6 6.Bd3 e6 7.N1f3 h6?! 8.Nxe6! (Precisely so! Deep Blue sacrifices for an obscure attack — not the sort of move then associated with computers, which prioritised material gain) Qe7? (This is probably Kasparov’s biggest mistake. Later it was shown that Black’s best defensive chances lie in capturing immediately with 7…fxe6, since after 8.Bg6+ Ke7 Black will be able to place his Queen on c7, challenging the crucial h2-b8 diagonal). 9.0-0 fxe6 (if 9…Qxe6 10.Re1 pins and wins the Queen) 10.Bg6+ Kd8 11.Bf4! (It was discovered afterwards that all the previous moves were in Deep Blue’s “Opening Book”. But this first move of its own calculation is excellent) b5? (Another mistake from Kasparov. He seeks to prevent White from playing c4, but this just allows more attacking lines to be opened) 12.a4 Bb7 13.Re1 Nd5 14.Bg3 Kc8 15.axb5 cxb5 16.Qd3 Bc6 17.Bf5! exf5 (Kasparov jettisons his Queen for Rook and Bishop, in a vain attempt to reduce White’s attacking potential) 18.Rxe7 Bxe7 19.c4!...

At this point, to the astonishment of the watching television audience, Kasparov could be seen to mutter something before rushing from the board waving his arms in a gesture of angry helplessness.

In fact, his resignation after just 19 moves was hardly premature, as can be seen by the plausible variation 19…bxc4 20.Qxc4 Nb4 21.Re1 Re8 22.Rxe7 Rxe7 23.Qxb4 Re6 24.Qc4 Rf6 25.Ne5 and Black’s entire position drops off. Sic transit . . .

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