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Greenblatt (Computer) vs Robert James Fischer
Computer Match (1977), Cambridge, MA USA
Sicilian Defense: Najdorf. Opocensky Variation (B92)  ·  0-1


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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  James Demery: The computer lasted 39 moves against Bobby the Fisch. Not bad for 1977.
Apr-10-07  Crowaholic: Ba7 is really bad, but interestingly, the Spike engine thinks it's the best move at depth 7 (17. Ba7 e3 18. c4 N5b6 19. Re1 Rfd8 20. a3). Only at higher search depths does it realize that this move is total nonsense. So it's not implausible that a 1977 computer would play that move.

21. Qxa6 seemed fishy to me, too, since it prevents White from recapturing, but on the other hand it saves the trapped bishop - after 21. Bxf1, Black wins the bishop with 21. ..Bxb3 22. axb3 Nc5.

Apr-18-07  rwbean: 12. Nxe7+? is bad, and after 17. Ba7?? White is lost. What's interesting about the game for me is Black's 14th move.

Toga II, even after many hours, always favours the variation 14... d4 15. Bg5 Rc3 winning Black's queen. It seems the next moves are forced: 16. bxc3 Nc5 17. cxd4 Nxd3 18. Bxd3 exd4 19. e5 Qc5 20. Bxf6 gxf6 21. exf6 (Position A).

Rybka 2.3 favours 14... d4 15. Bg5 Qc5 for a while, then switches to 14... Rfd8 and stays there. But its evaluation for Position A is only very slightly worse for Black than for the variation with 14... Rfd8. Is "winning" the queen worth it? Can we say that either or both of 14... d4 or 14...Rfd8 is better than 14...Qb4?

Jul-30-09  Big Easy: It would seem that lasting 39 moves is an accomplishment (and it probably was for a chess-playing computer in 1977). However, all three of these games vs. Fischer were lost well before checkmate.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Garech: Brilliant attacking chess from Fischer, who totally destroyed his silicon opponent. But now a question for the masses: Fischer at his prime Vs. The most recent Rybka w/ opening book and tablebases - who wins?
Mar-07-11  AnalyzeThis: This is a sense of humor in this game. White is playing some nonsense with Ba7, meanwhile black is preparing the kingside attack to burn down the barn.
Premium Chessgames Member
  juan31: Se puede opinar muchas cosas sobre este juego, pero… poniéndose en el tiempo 1977 no creo que fuera algo simple jugar contra un programa, el Gran Maestro Internacional de Ajedrez R.J. Fischer, venia de ganar el Campeonato Mundial a la gran maquina soviética con todos sus Maestros y después perder su título fuera del tablero, así que pueden opinar mil cosas sobre la posición, etc, pero más allá de las opiniones es un Genio que vive para siempre en su Obra ajedrecística.
Jul-05-11  piroflip: At last some sensible comments instead of the usual rubbish from posters that this machine would easily beat.
Oct-20-11  Helios727: It's too bad we never got to see how Bobby would have handled Karpov's version of the Opocensky-Najdorf Sicilian.
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: <Mar-08-07 James Demery: The computer lasted 39 moves against Bobby the Fisch. Not bad for 1977.>

The machine did not last 39 moves - its position was lost long before that. Any human super GM would have resigned much earlier, knowing it was already hopeless.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Joshka: Another chapter in Bobby's life that nothing has been written about, at least nothing I have come across anyway. Who arranged for Bobby to play ? What were the provisions? Where were the games played? When in 1977? Where did Bobby stay. Was he a guest of MIT? Nothing is ever written, and no one steps forward to discuss how all this was arranged!!!
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: The game was probably played long distance--it's only a chess computer. Bob was probably at a chess club or a wealthy benefactor's house in the greater Los Angeles area, where there would be room to set up a modem to get hooked up to MIT.

He was probably paid, and the clause was "I don't play if anyone here talks to the press about payment!" I would hazard $1,000 would have been enough, and Bob played only because he knew an early computer model would have no chance against him.

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: from wiki:

"In 1977, unbeaten chess champion Bobby Fischer played three games in Cambridge, Massachusetts against Greenblatt's computer program, and Fischer won all of them.[4] Greenblatt, along with Tom Knight and Stewart Nelson, co-wrote the Incompatible Timesharing System, a highly influential timesharing operating system for the PDP-6 and PDP-10 used at MIT."

Seems hard to believe they got the reclusive Fischer to travel to Cambridge for three games of chess. Perhaps Bob felt no threat to his "title" because a human opponent was not involved? I'm pretty sure they found some money to pay Fischer, though it isn't mentioned here, the Greenblatt page at Wiki.

Jan-11-16  Joker2048: I believe that fischer is in the 3 best chess player of all time... But this program is so much weak!!
Jan-11-16  WDenayer: What would the strength of this computer have been? 1500-1600? It played some decent defensive moves when it was already completely lost. For the rest, it made a lot of mistakes, not only Ba7.
Jan-11-16  Petrosianic: I think I once heard someone estimate Greenblatt at about 1700 strength.
Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: Right after the games, the Greenblatt
computer released a pamphlet:

"I was Tortured by Robert Fischer,
in a Cambridge Mass. AI Lab!"

Jan-11-16  WDenayer: Petrosianic: Sounds acceptable.
Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: This is what one would expect from a computer in 1977. Still though, the game is of interest since if nothing else, its a rare Fischer sample from that time period


Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: < Joshka: Another chapter in Bobby's life that nothing has been written about, at least nothing I have come across anyway. Who arranged for Bobby to play ? What were the provisions? Where were the games played? When in 1977? Where did Bobby stay. Was he a guest of MIT? Nothing is ever written, and no one steps forward to discuss how all this was arranged!!!>

Here is what I have from the book "Kasparov versus Deep Blue" by Monty Newborn:

<in 1977, Doug Penrod began the <Computer Chess Newsletter> from his home in California. It was the forerunner of the <ICCA Journal>. Penrod became ill about a year later, and Ben Mittman took over the publication. In 1983, when I was elected president of the ICCA, the current <ICCA Journal> began under the editorship of Jaap van den Herik... Penrod published three games that Bobby Fischer played against MAC HACK (Greenblatt) in his second issue. The games were sent to him by Fischer. Fischer toyed with the computer in winning all 3 games. Exactly when the games were played is not known. In a letter to Penrod published in the first issue of the newsletter, Fischer said he felt he could give the computer a queen and a rook and still win.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: I think I saw one of the games published in a newspaper in 78 or 79. The games were played by phone or by fax machine. Fischer was probably gifted a few $thousand dollars to do this, as he never did anything for free after 1972.

Seriwan noted in his book "No Regrets" about the '92 rematch with Spassky that at some time in the 80s when these standalone chess computers were getting stronger Fischer approached Seriwan and asked if he get one to him (for free, of course). Maybe Fischer was quietly developing a little respect for the computers as analysis partners.

Aug-29-17  Petrosianic: The first game was published in Byrne's column in The New Zork Times.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: I think I saw a reprint of that, in a regional newspaper. Byre's column would sometimes appear in smaller papers, if it was a big happening, like a wc match or maybe deep blue vs Kasparov, that kind of thing.
Jul-28-18  hdcc: <HeHateMe> "Fischer was probably gifted a few $thousand dollars to do this [...]"

It's far more likely that he was given a few $thousand dollars...

Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: <HeMateMe:

Maybe Fischer was quietly developing a little respect for the computers as analysis partners.>

...or maybe the first chess computer was getting old.

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