May 12, 1997 in Nation/World

Deep Blue Demolishes Chess Champion

 

In a dazzling, hourlong game Sunday, the Deep Blue IBM computer demolished world chess champion Garry Kasparov and won the six-game chess match between man and machine.

The final score was 3-1/2 points for the computer and 2-1/2 points for Kasparov. The 34-year-old Russian and the computer split the first two games, then played to draws in Games 3, 4 and 5.

Kasparov resigned after the computer’s 19th move in Game 6. Visibly upset, he bolted from the table, shrugging his shoulders.

At a news conference later, he lashed out at IBM for programming the computer specifically to beat him.

“It was nothing to do about science. … It was one zeal to beat Garry Kasparov,” he said. “And when a big corporation with unlimited resources would like to do so, there are many ways to achieve the result. And the result was achieved.”

Grandmaster Ilya Gurevich said the computer’s win could ruin the game.

“Bobby Fischer once said chess is getting to be solvable,” he said. “This computer event could eventually bring the whole thing to a solution. It may eventually mean the end of the game. It’s possible.”

A friend of Kasparov’s, Michael Khodarkovski, said this was the first time Kasparov has ever lost a chess match. A 1984-85 championship match between Kasparov and then-champion Anatoly Karpov was suspended without a winner.

Gurevich said Sunday’s game was “a stunner. Kasparov got wiped off the board.”

In Sunday’s game, Deep Blue played white and Kasparov played black. In the opening move, Gurevich said, Kasparov was “trying to create a quiet positional game. But he mixed up his move order and allowed the computer to make a knight sacrifice.”

The computer gave up a knight for a pawn at its eighth move. Gurevich said that after the knight sacrifice, “this is not a position (Kasparov) wanted to get into. It’s a pure calculating position where the computer has a big advantage. The computer’s strength is tactics.”

International master David Levy said Kasparov “should never have played a main line,” a popular series of moves commonly played in grandmaster games, in his opening. “It makes it easy for the computer to get a good position out of the opening.”

On move 18, Kasparov lost his queen for a rook and a bishop. This, along with the knight he had already taken, is normally enough compensation for the queen, which is the strongest piece on the board. But it looked like he was about to lose another bishop or knight, and he resigned after the computer’s 19th move.

Another grandmaster, John Fedorowicz, said: “Everybody was surprised that he resigned because it didn’t seem lost. We’ve all played this position before. It’s a known position.”

Kasparov gets $400,000 for his loss. Had he won, he would have taken home $700,000. IBM, which staged the match and put up the purse, will put the winning stake toward continued research.

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