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<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> essay by Taavet Jansen <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>



The first time human vs computer chess match was proposed in Kubricks movie '2001: A Space Odyssey' in '68 where board computer HAL (interesting, is it only a coincidence that HAL is in the alphabet one letter ahead from IBM) was playing chess against astronaut Frank Poole. Kubrick chose chess because the level of difficulty is familiar to everybody and chess has been held as a symbol of human logic and strategic thinking for centuries. And nobody predicts mentioned qualities from the computer. Now - 40 years later - nobody questions chess master loosing to the computer like nobody questions Olympic Sprinter loosing to the motorcycle.

The first time when World Chess Champion Gary Kasparov played 2 game match against IBM's Deep Thought was in 1989 and Kasparov defeated the computer easily. Deep Thought was the computer which was specially designed to play chess and it was named after fictional computer in Douglas Adams's science fiction novel 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy'.

Next rematch against Deep Blue (upgrade from Deep Thought) was in february 1996 where Garry lost 1 game, won 3 and drew 2 games and won the match 4:2.

In May 1997 played heavily upgraded Deep Blue and Garry Kasparov the rematch where Garry lost to Deep Blue 2,5 : 3,5. Deep Blue won the 2nd and the 6th game, Garry won the 1st and 3 games were played draw. It was 1st time when computer won an world chess champion in the match play.

Kasparov claimed that the IBM team had a purpose not to play chess match against the world champion but planned to 'crush' Garry Kasparov. There were several factors which weighted against Kasparov in the game - lack of information about the Deep Blue, no access to follow the previous games played by the Deep Blue against the human player, no access to the match log files after the game, the whole TV studio building where the match took place was guarded by IBM's security forces, a lot of rooms were blocked and guarded, Kasparov wasn't even allowed to see his opponent - The Chess Computer. He even found proof that his hotel room was observed from the window by telescope . It all caused a lot of stress and discomfort to Kasparov and his team and eventually affected his concentration during the matches. in the sixth match was Kasparov only a pale shadow of himself - he was already so tired and exhausted from precedent stress that he made one very simple mistake which lead him to the loss of the whole match.

The second game raised a lot of discussions and different opinions. Deep Blue played very different style than it did in the first game. If in the first game Deep Blue used simple 'brute force' tactics while in the second game it showed a lot of creativity, intelligence and played in the way what could be considered as a style. This was very unlikely that Deep Blue could change over night and play like that on the next day. Garry claimed IBM that they cheated and let human chess players to intervene the game - he demanded for the printouts of the

game but IBM refused to show them and mentioned that the files would be too complicated to understand anyway.

Deep Blue even missed one very important moment in the end of the game which could

happen very unlikely if to play using brute force tactics (current World Chess Champion

Vishwanathan Anand asked in his review how come did Deep Blue not see 45 Earth did it play 44.Kf1? Surely it could calculate 3 moves further! '(1)).

Qe3? Why on

Quantity becomes quality - difference between the man and the machine

To play chess against the computer Garry Kasparov had 2 options - to play like Kasparov or

to play like 'Mr. Anti-Deep Blue' (1). He chose the latter one and fell in to the trap. His strategy

could have work if he hadn't leave so much territory to Deep Blue. By trying so hard to avoid any position where Deep Blue might be able to calculate its way through, he effectively self-


What defines the human chess player from the chess playing computer? The computer science pioneer Alan Touring proposed his famous touring test in 1950: There are 2 keyboards in front of you - one leads to the computer and second to a person. You type in the question you like and they both type you the answer. If you can't determine which was the computer then the machine passes the touring test. Touring test is also applied to chess - you play chess against the computer screen and have to define is your opponent human or computer. It isn't very foolproof version because you could lose the game in particularly interesting way that might reveal is your opponent human or computer. In the extended version you watch the recorded game and have to state if either opponent - or possibly both or possibly neither - was a computer.(2)

Chess masters have very developed abilities of the pattern recognition and strategy but they are very slow unlike computers which are very fast (Deep Blue could evaluate 200 millions moves per second) but pathetic in strategy and pattern recognition. The chess masters can remember astronomic amount of the chess board positions where the placement of the pieces represents the meaningful tactical positions. Human players can also adopt during the game the opponents style while computer can play only according to the program. Kasparov changed his style during the games and he stated that in 1996 he won the first version of the Deep Blue because he analyzed their first game and he exploited its weakness in the next games. (2)

But sometimes can the computers ability to do extensive search consequences in the endgame play. For example: certain endgame arrangements were always thought to

represent a draw - no human haven't ever seen the way to win. In one setup, a Connection Machine (the supercomputer that grew out of Danny Hillis's research) found a forced checkmate in an astonishing 249 moves - playing chess against the computer who has such

a endgame sequences is like to play against the God! Kasparov said it best: 'Sometimes quantity becomes quality'.(2)


With this match in 1997 jumped IBM to the first league in computer science and industry and boosted the stock values about 15%. Thats why there never wasn't rematch. At least from the supporters of the conspiracy point of view.

Dr. Mark F Bregman (IBM) anounced after the match that whole humanity will benefit from this match - next day the Deep Blues RS/6000 technology will be used in innovative drug therapies, car industry and even in weather forecast (4). The IBM RS/6000 technology was even used in NASA's Mars Pathfinder to a safe landing on Mars in 7th of july in 1997.

One of the three persons who designed and programmed Deep Blue - Feng-hsiung Hsu left IBM 2 years after the match, bought rights to commercialize the chess chip used in Deep Blue and responded to Kasparovs challenge and offered him a rematch. Kasparov refused because he found Feng-hsiungs offer being empty because he had no sponsors, no money, no team, no hardware but he demanded that the match should be the title match - even before negotiations could begin. With no guarantees to fair play conditions. Here is a contradiction - Feng-hsiung Hsu says himself that he don't believe that a computer should be the World Champion. He believes that the title should be for humans only (3) but Kasparov and his manager stated that Feng-hsiung demanded the title match)

After the Kasparovs refusal Feng-hsiung Hsu stopped his research in the development of the chess chip.

Deep Blue programmers team sayd after the match: 'The IBM PR people told us not to smile after the match. It was the point where we should have been most happy - but we wasn't. It sucks. The joy was really sucked out of this - we won but we wasn't jumping up and down.'

IBM retired Deep Blue in september 1997. It didn't play any matches after the match with Garry Kasparov in may.

IBM stopped the chess playing computer research announced in the September 1997: 'Our Scientists said they really did want to move on to other grand challenges and the company wants too'(6)

Garry Kasparov

2005 Garry Kasparov announced his retirement. He decided to his whole database - his legendary preparations and tens of thousands of lines and megabytes of analyzes - to train the next generation of talented players. He created software called Carrybase which consists an astronomic amount of variations of position analysis. He says: ' I dont think Im giving away too many secrets, but my state of mind has changed. Im working on the book 'My Great Predecessors', Im making lessons, thinking more about sharing my experiences and knowledge. Im trying to share my ideas, to analyze the nature of the decision-making process, to help people find their strengths and weaknesses, to find their own formula for success. One prefers intuition, another more hard data, to analyze how these formulas work and how they can be customized.'(5)

Eight years after the legendary match with the Deep Blue, he insists that was a sad day for chess and in his opinion the match was fake and IBM didn't produce any evidence that it wasn't. IBM should have produced the full printouts of the Deep Blue log files to prove on what bases Deep Blue made it's decisions and that there wasn't any human intervention. 'I feel I was beaten by IBM, not by Deep Blue. They dismantled the machine, the program, everything. If you have something outstanding your share it, you dont hide it. You apply for a Nobel Prize. Why didnt they?'(5)

Match with Deep Blue in 1997 wasn't the last time when Kasparov played against the computer - 2003 played Kasparov - still the World Champion - against Deep Junior (World Computer Champion software) and drew 6 game match 3:3.


IBMs heavily promoted victory contributed to an image that they created an AI which battled and won the World Champion in chess - in the game which has presumed centuries the highest level of human intellect. Garry Kasparov called the tournament - species defining. It could be taken with an irony of course - AI developed by IBM can hardly considered as the new species. Organized competitive chess remains the game which requires complex strategies, logic and huge memory for the patterns. This is the beauty of the game - to play yourself and see the other representatives of the same species play against each other using different styles and showing their capacities. Chess isn't about the speed of calculating the possible moves per second or search up to 40 plys (8) ahead with each move.

To watch the chess from this point of view can possibly the AI beat human in this? is it different from the physical sports - in sprint for example? Wouldn't make any sense to arrange the contests between the man and the machine there. Between the runner and the motorcycle or between the runner and rabbit. Nobody wouldn't question the man chances there.

I admit that the situation is a bit different when our intelligence is under the question. Nobody

can accept that.(7) Human race is considered as the most intelligence occupying the planet - there isn't any evidences that we aren't. But chess isn't probably the quality mark of human intelligence generally. Chess illustrates more the humans ability to think according to the rules of the made-up game. Think creatively. Our plan-ahead abilities to form the narratives out of what can happen next. And rate the candidate scenarios even if we will have troubles to form the reasons in to the sentences.

Kasparov says after the match with Deep Junior and Deep Fritz (another famous chess program) that human is still capable to beat the machines. Best human player in his best day can play and win against the computer even now. Humans just can't guarantee the best performance on every day. Machines are much better than Deep Blue but not yet so superior to human players.



* 'More Questions than Answers' by Vishwanathan Anand

** 'The end of an era, the beginning of another? HAL, Deep Blue and Kasparov' by David G Stork *** Open Letter from Feng-hsiung Hsu one of the main programmers of Deep Blue, The Week in Chess Magazine **** 'With Deep Blue technology, we all win' Dr.Mark F Bregman, general manager RS/ 6000 division, IBM ***** The Garry Kasparov ChessBase interview, March 2005 ****** film 'Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine' directed by Vikram Jayanti 2005 ******* film 'Revolver' by Guy Ritchie

(8) ply - In two-player games, a ply refers to one turn taken by one of the players 'How the pro's do it' www.chesscafe.com 'IBM retires Deep Blue from chess matches' (http://chess.about.com/gi/dynamic/


'Kasparov-Deep Junior, New York, 2003' (http://chess.about.com/library/weekly/


''Game Over': Did IBM Cheat Kasparov' (http://chess.about.com/library/weekly/


'Quarantine' by Arthur C Clarke 'History of the chess table' by Monty Newborn 'The Chess Mentality' by William H. Kalvin wikipedia