Rebel vs. Anand by Ed Schröder
South Italy was a great place to be. Ischia is nice island for a chess holiday. There was a FIDE chess tournament with 150-200 people with as an extra the Rebel-Anand match.
The 5 - 3 in favor of Rebel was a big surprise for me as I never expected such a result. My personal expectation for the match was that Rebel would gain 2.5 points from the 4 blitz games, 0.5 points from the 2 semi blitz games and hopefully(!) 0.5 points from the 2 tournament games. So in total 3.5 - 4.5 in favor of Anand.
The evening before the match started we had a meeting with Anand and his staff of 4 people to introduce each other and to discuss the latest details.
It was a very friendly meeting in a relaxed atmosphere. In his staff Anand has a Grand master who has Rebel9 on which he was very positive about. Still I got the impression Anand had not prepared at all against Rebel. Of course I can be very wrong about that.
I was asked some questions about the Anti-GM option of Rebel10. It was funny to hear that the staff people of Anand had translated Rebel's "Anti-GM" into "Anti-Anand" -:)
So I explained to them there is no such a thing as "Anti-Anand" but a general piece of software that should work against all Grand Masters and that this is a new development which would be tried on him first.
We also discussed the four 5:00 blitz games. Here Anand had a special wish as he wanted to play the 4 blitz games with a 5 seconds Fischer bonus for each move. We were not happy by this as this would give Rebel less chances. But it was accepted by the Rebel-team as you don't say no to Anand.
So after the meeting I reconsidered my personal prediction for the match from 3.5 - 4.5 to 2.5 - 5.5 in favor of Anand. How wrong was I! Rebel won the first 3 games and especially game-2 is a game to be very proud of. I never could have dreamed that Rebel after day-1 leading with 4.5 - 1.5 already had won the match with still 2 games to go!
On Day-2 the staff of Anand came with demands to the organization. They wanted a better place for Anand, more space for him to walk, the computer should be moved from him a few meters. Of course we accepted his demands as they were reasonable.
The game itself was an exciting game, very attractive chess as because of the octopus with Nd3 Anand had to sacrifice and launch an attack on Rebel's King. But it never came that far as Rebel attacked Anand's King instead. For me this was the world upside down!
Unfortunately Rebel collected the material win too quick and Anand with some very fine defensive moves assured the draw.
Instead of 33..Bxb2+ Rebel first should have played 33..Qe6! Rebel shows the following fine line: 33..Qe6 34.Bc6 Rc3!! 35.bxc3 Qc4! and Rebel wins.
33.. Qe6! is found one iteration later with score of about +3.00.
Although the game ended in a draw I am very proud of this game. Rebel managed to get world's second best player in a lost position on tournament level on a normal Pc. As a programmer you can only dream of that!
People said that Jeroen offered the draw to Anand much to early. I have to disagree. The end position is a draw unless Anand makes a mistake. On this level you simply don't start to play on the opponents clock. That's against the etiquette.
The second tournament game on Day-3 was also a very interesting one. Again it was Rebel who took the initiative with the surprising manoeuvre 14.Qd3 followed by 15.Qf3!
Anand took almost 20 minutes for his reply 15..Bd6!
The remaining ending was very unclear. Although Rebel showed a score of +2.xx after the Queen exchange I wasn't pleased with the position at all!
After the game I asked Jeroen why he didn't offer Anand a draw right after the Queen exchange. Jeroen said that in his opinion Black was standing a bit better and that the etiquette says you don't offer a draw then.
Although Rebel had the advantage in material in reality all his connected passed pawns are in fact worthless without an active King and Rooks. Anand simply got the most out of it and made no mistake.
Also here people said Rebel resigned too early. Also here I have to disagree. You sit across the second best chess player of the world, if you have a lost position without direct counter chances you simply resign. No need to wait on a -5.00 (or so) from the computer. Anything else is an insult if you play against a player like Anand.
All in all I am very glad with the 5-3 result in favor of Rebel and what has given me most pleasure is that Rebel was able to set the rules (or take the initiative) in most of the games even in the 2 tournament games!
The press conference with Anand and me was a bit disappointing. Anand was not willing to answer any question concerning the playing strength of Rebel instead he gave only evasive answers.
Personally I got the impression this is standard policy as Anand wasn't willing to answer similar questions about the strength of other chess programs like Deep Blue and Fritz too. And why should he as such statements will be used by commercials and could be seen as an endorsement.
Interesting detail, a spokesman of the Anand staff told me, "Vishy will never play a computer again!" Later Anand said the very same to one of the present journalists.
After the match at the press conference Anand was asked about the possibility about a re-match against Rebel. Anand said he had to think about that. I wonder if the last game has changed his mind -:)
Author of Rebel