Former world chess champion Garry Kasparov talks about his matches with supercomputer Deep Blue, and some of the game’s impressive numbers.
The number of legal chess positions is 1040, the number of different possible games, 10120. Authors have attempted various ways to convey this immensity, usually based on one of the few fields to regularly employ such exponents, astronomy. In his book Chess Metaphors, Diego Rasskin-Gutman points out that a player looking eight moves ahead is already presented with as many possible games as there are stars in the galaxy. Another staple, a variation of which is also used by Rasskin-Gutman, is to say there are more possible chess games than the number of atoms in the universe.
IBM has been developing a new computer that will soon compete against two people on a US TV game show. Given that a little deductive thinking is required for this particular task, it is apt that the computer is named Watson.
Twelve years after IBM’s Deep Blue computer defeated World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov, the company has developed Watson, a new system so refined that it could compete on the popular American TV quiz show Jeopardy. Jeopardy is a general knowledge quiz show, which relies on contestants picking up on clues in the questions to formulate their answers. “Jeopardy is a great challenge,” says David Ferrucci, the lead researcher on the Watson project. “It makes broad demands on knowledge, and clues contain relevant and irrelevant material. Humans can distinguish in a flash, but computers cannot know that. It must consider everything in parallel to figure that out.”
The chess games of Deep Blue
Slideshow series depicting the chess games IBM “supercomputer” Deep Blue played with chess masters Garry Kasparov, David Bronstein, and Judit Polgar.
Deep Blue is a chess computer designed and produced by the computer company IBM. Deep Blue’s programming code is written in C and runs under the AIX operating system. It won a game against Garry Kasparov on February 10, 1996, marking the first time a chess computer has ever beaten a reigning world champion under regular time controls. It was then upgraded and played a six-game match against Garry Kasparov in May of 1997. It won 3.5-2.5, marking the first time a chess computer has ever beaten a reigning world champion in a match under standard tournament rules and time controls. Garry Kasparov demanded a rematch which IBM did not accept and IBM retired Deep Blue.
Kasparov was in fact convinced IBM had cheated, making their decision not to hold a rematch all the more questionable.