The Computer is Wrong!

Aug 23, 2014, 2:43 PM |

    In our modern chess world, computers are now regarded as superior to humans. Although they are very quick in tactics, there are some positions where they are completely (not a little bit, but completely!) off. For example, I was toying with positions like this one

when my engine, Fritz 11 SE, spat out:

(-3.84) 1.b6 axb6 2.Qd4+ Kg8 etc.

    Well, I was stunned! This position is a dead draw. Why? After 1.b6! (at least Fritz found the right move!) axb6 2.Qd4+ and 3.Qd7, the super-powerful a-pawn will force a draw since Black is the one who will have to play for perpetual check.

    Also, this reminds me of one of Grandmaster Pal Benko's compositions. (I put it on puzzle mode, see if you can solve it! Since it is irrelevant to this post, you can ask about variations in the comments.)

(White to move and draw)
    When reading Benko's excellent notes (in his great book, Pal Benko: My Life, Games, and Compositions), I came across this position.
Here 1.Kc7! (1.Kb7?? Nd6+ 2.Kc6 h3! 3.Kxd6 h2 4.a7 h1=Q 5.Kc7 Qa8 wins.) 1...Na7 (1...h3 2.Kxc8 h2 3.a7 h1=Q 4.Kb8! is a basic draw; if you don't know it, I suggest you study a bit) 2.Kb6! (2.Kb7?? Nb5 3.Kb6 h3!) 2...Nc8+ (2...h3 3.Kxa7 h2 4.Kb8 h1=Q 5.a7) 3.Kc7!, with a repetition, draws. However, my computer once again disagreed with me and gave the amazing score of around -8! Amazed, I looked at the moves it was playing and realized that it felt the position after the variation to Black's first move was won for Black. I'm guessing it gives a -8 because Black can play on and on forever (ignore the 50-move rule) before drawing.
    Another glitch occurs when you repeat the position once, and this, I'm assuming since I've seen on many different engines, occurs on pretty much all engines. Consider this position
where White is obviously winning. If White plays 1.Re8+ Rf8 2.Re4, the engine gives the score as 0.00 and considers 2.Re4 as a blunder because Black can play 2...Rf4 and repeat. However, once Black plays 2...Rf4, the computer is on track again.
    So, although our computer "overlords" can be very accurate and magnificently precise, only settling for the very best, they still need improvement. Don't respect them too much-they are still man-made, and no matter what, it's still a robot!