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 Dortmund 2000

By Jeff Sonas
Dortmund 2000: Final Statistical Wrapup
Statistics Maven Jeff Sonas Looks at the Greatest Computer/Human Event Ever!

The Dortmund 2000 tournament was an historic event, as the first-ever tournament with regulation time controls that included both a computer program and several of the world‘s elite Grandmasters. As it turned out, we also saw another historical milestone, as Vladimir Kramnik‘s unbeaten streak finally ended at an astounding 82 games. Deep Junior was never in serious contention for first place, as Kramnik and Viswanathan Anand traded the lead a couple of times and finally tied for first place at +3, with three players tied at +1, followed by Deep Junior, alone in sixth place with an even score. However, Deep Junior was obviously a very important factor in determining the tournament winner.

In fact, if we were to consider only the games played between humans, discounting the Deep Junior games for the moment, the tournament would have had quite a different outcome. Anand would have won clear first place at +3, with Kramnik and Peter Leko tied for second place at +2. This result was indeed what I predicted in my pre-tournament calcuations for the "humans-only" subset of the tournament, as my statistical model had named Anand as the pre-tournament favorite, with a 26% chance of clear first place. I did not include Deep Junior‘s chances in my pre-tournament calculations, because of the lack of statistical evidence regarding its strength.

As I mentioned in my Round One statistical outlook, there were several reasons why Anand was given better chances than the higher-rated Kramnik. Michael Adams and Alexander Khalifman had the black pieces against Anand and the white pieces against Kramnik, and the matchups of opening repertoires indicated that Anand should have gained at least a full point on Kramnik out of those two matchups. In fact, Anand actually gained 1.5 points, as he beat both Adams and Khalifman, and Kramnik lost to Adams and drew against Khalifman. On the other hand, although Evgeny Bareev and Robert Huebner had the black pieces against Kramnik and the white pieces against Anand, my calculations did not give Kramnik much of a chance to gain back that ground against Anand. The reasoning was that Bareev is quite strong with Black and correspondingly weaker with White, and Huebner had such a low rating that he was probably going to lose to both Anand and Kramnik. That was also correct, as Huebner lost to both Anand and Kramnik, while Bareev drew against each player. So, out of those four matchups, Anand was 1.5 points ahead of Kramnik. They also each won one game with White against the lowest-rated players (other than Huebner), with Anand beating Jeroen Piket and Kramnik defeating Vladimir Akopian.

So, where did Kramnik make up those 1.5 points? Well, he defeated Anand in Round Six to catch up one full point. The remaining half-point was gained by Kramnik in their games against Deep Junior, where Kramnik defeated the computer while Anand could only draw against it. This allowed Kramnik to finish even with Anand.

There were very few upsets between human players at the Dortmund 2000 tournament. The victories by Adams over Kramnik, Kramnik over Anand, and Anand over Adams, were all won by the "favorites" (as determined by my statistical model); the only two "upsets" (not counting Deep Junior‘s games) were Evgeny Bareev‘s two losses, in games against Akopian and Leko where he was actually a slight favorite. However, the games involving Deep Junior were much harder to predict; its loss to Piket with the white pieces and its victory over Leko with the black pieces were two huge upsets. This was the big reason why my estimate of Deep Junior‘s strength kept varying so much; it kept doing the unexpected! By the way, my final estimate of Deep Junior‘s strength, based on its performance at Dortmund, is 2731. This was a little lower than my original estimate of 2740, which would have predicted a finish of +1, but considerably higher than the estimate of 2691 that it had going into the final round with a minus score! Note that this estimate, calculated using a statistical technique known as the Method of Maximum Likelihood, is more accurate than the official tournament "performance rating"of 2702 which Deep Junior received, because my method takes color into account. Deep Junior had to play five out of nine games with the black pieces, making its even score somewhat more impressive than if it had played five games out of nine with the white pieces. My method also takes the color-related abilities of opponents into consideration; it is much more impressive to score 1.5/2 with White against Morozevich and with Black against Khalifman, than it is to score 1.5/2 with Black against Morozevich and White against Khalifman, because Khalifman is so much better with White than with Black, whereas Morozevich scores equally with White and with Black.

In any event, I said at the start that my predictions of Deep Junior‘s chances in the tournament were somewhat uncertain. One very important feature of my statistical model is its ability to compare opening repertoires of the two players in a game, and that was not possible to do for Deep Junior. Allow me to digress briefly, to give an example. Garry Kasparov, as is well known, has an incredible mastery of the Sicilian Defense, with White or Black. If he is facing an opponent against whom the Sicilian is very likely to occur, Kasparov is going to have an even larger advantage than usual. On the other hand, if the Sicilian is not very likely to occur, then one piece of his mastery is going to be missing, and his chances against that opponent might not be as good as we might otherwise think.

Judit Polgar, for instance, almost invariably plays 1.e4, and also plays the Sicilian with Black almost 100% of the time. Against Kasparov, a Sicilian Defense is very likely, and so Polgar would be predicted to have even more trouble than their rating difference would suggest. That prediction is certainly confirmed by their lifetime results against each other. Conversely, Jeroen Piket opens with 1.e4 less than 1% of the time, and he hardly ever plays the Sicilian with Black against 1.e4. When Piket and Kasparov meet, a Sicilian is very unlikely, and so Kasparov might not do as well as their rating difference would suggest. Their results earlier this year provide some confirmation of that prediction, as well.

With Deep Junior, however, there are hardly any regulation games (that we know about) against highly-rated opponents. We don‘t really know yet whether it is particularly dominant with White, or does incredibly well in open positions, or has trouble with certain openings or pawn positions. In fact, we don‘t even know its true rating yet. The top players are still learning about the best approach against Deep Junior, and only time will tell whether technology has caught up to humanity yet. However, the only way for us to learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of computer programs, is for more events of this type to be held in the future. Over time, we will learn more, and it will be possible to make even more accurate predictions.

As Vladimir Kramnik recently pointed out, there is a serious cost that goes along with the introduction of computers into tournament chess; every tournament spot granted to a computer is one fewer opportunity for a human grandmaster to participate. Of course, if the publicity leads to more money and therefore more tournaments spots, those same human grandmasters would definitely benefit. It is up to the chess world to decide whether this experiment is worth the cost. However, the Dortmund 2000 tournament was certainly a big success, and we can all be grateful to the tournament organizers and participants for a piece of chess history that was both entertaining and educational.

See related articles:

  • Dortmund 2000 Schedule, Results, and Games. Kramnik and Anand Tie for First! (7/17/2000)
  • Updated from Rounds 7 and 8: Dortmund 2000 Statistical Outlook (7/17/2000)
  • Updated from Round 6: Dortmund Statistical Outlook (7/14/2000)
  • Updated from Round 5: Dortmund Statistical Outlook (7/16/2000)
  • Register Now for Free Interactive Commentary on Dortmund Rounds 5 and 9 (7/10/2000)
  • Tension Mounting as the Dortmund Super Tournament Gets Underway (7/7/2000)
  • Dortmund 2000: Who Will Stop Anand? (7/5/2000)
  • Dortmund Super-Tournament in July. Man-Machine at its Best! (7/16/2000)
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