Fun_People Archive
12 Feb
IBM computer beats chess champ Kasparov

Date: Mon, 12 Feb 96 13:18:01 -0800
From: Peter Langston <psl>
To: Fun_People
Subject: IBM computer beats chess champ Kasparov

Forwarded-by: (Keith Bostic)
Forwarded-by: Todd Kover <kovert@umiacs.UMD.EDU>
Forwarded-by: Sujal Patel <>

February 10, 1996
Web posted at: 12:00 a.m. EST

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (Reuter) -- An IBM computer called Deep Blue made
chess history Saturday by comfortably beating world champion Garry Kasparov,
marking a machine's first victory under classic tournament rules.

Deep Blue, playing with the advantage of the white pieces, forced the
Russian grandmaster to resign on the 37th move in the first game of a
six-game match after surrounding his king with pieces and winning material
in a relentless attack.

With five games left from Sunday until next Saturday, grandmasters believe
the game would also be significant to the outcome of the contest, which is
worth $400,000 to the winner and $100,000 to the loser.

Although computer programs have beaten grandmasters, including Kasparov, in
games lasting five, 30 or 60 minutes, this was the first win for a machine
in a classical chess format. Each player had two hours in which to make 40
moves, two hours to complete the next 20, and then an hour to end the game.

Saturday's game was over in three hours, Deep Blue having used one hour and
10 minutes and Kasparov one hour, 55 minutes.

"Deep Blue had no fear," said grandmaster Joel Benjamin, who worked with
the IBM team of programmers in its final preparation. "If it does not see
a winning attack for its opponent, it just presses on. It saw everything
and it was right."

The computer program selected an opening of the Sicilian defense, known to
chess experts as the "c3 Sicilian." It has become popular in the last 10
years as a way to avoid the sharpest attacking options of the black pieces.

Kasparov, 32, sitting on a raised platform opposite a video display terminal
and an IBM programmer receiving the moves over the Internet from Yorktown
Heights, New York, was in trouble as early as the 13th move when the
computer thrust a knight at his queen.

Holding his head in his hands and grimacing over the chessboard, Kasparov
spent a valuable 30 minutes in deep thought before making his reply. By the
middlegame, Kasparov's pawn structure was in disarray and as Deep Blue
marshaled its pieces to attack, the world champion's counterattack folded.

"Kasparov decided to go on to the attack because in his judgment it was a
forced win," said grandmaster Yasser Seirawan, who led the commentary in a
separate room for more than 200 spectators. "He overlooked a very critical
defensive move that would have given him an advantage."

Seirawan, who predicted a resounding victory for Kasparov before the match
started, said he was now seriously rethinking that view.

The IBM programmers, who spent six years developing Deep Blue, were
jubilant. Kasparov left the Philadelphia Convention Center without speaking
to reporters, but associates said he was very disappointed and took the
defeat to heart.

In a control room, programmers cheered, clapped, and hugged each other when
Kasparov resigned.

"It's great, I think its going to be a very interesting match now," said
C.J. Tan, senior manager of the company's parallel processing unit.
Parallel processors work on different parts of a complex problem
simultaneously, as opposed to less powerful and older serial processors,
which solve them one at a time.

The researchers, only one of whom is a serious chess player, have worked
since 1988 developing a processor chip specifically for chess calculations.

Deep Blue is now a 32-node IBM RS/6000 SP high-performance computer that is
capable of calculating 50 billion moves within three minutes.

The machine's name is a play on IBM's nickname, Big Blue.

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