NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, October 2007
By Berry F. Phillips, a member of ccOKC and a
frequent contributor to the eMonitor, Computer Club of Oklahoma City

bfpdata(at)1access.net (click to email author)

Obtained from APCUG with the author's permission for publication by APCUG member groups.

Man-vs-machine has been a theme that has intrigued the public for many years. The Turk was a chess playing automaton that was a sensation in Europe in the 1770s. The Turk was a wooden cabinet with a chess board on top played by a life-sized mannequin dressed in Turkish style. This mysterious device could play against and often defeat human chess opponents including Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin. In truth, the Turk was a clever illusion as the cabinet concealed a human chess expert who moved the Turk's arm and played the games. The Turk was created by Wolfgang von Kempleur and was not only a success in Europe but later in the United States. Eventually the Turk was no longer popular and was destroyed in a fire in Philadelphia in 1864. Edgar Allen Poe wrote a widely read 1836 essay proposing that the Turk concealed a human chess player.

The best known of the man-vs-machine devices was the world-famous Deep Blue. Deep Blue began as a chess program named Chipset (later Deep Thought) and was created by Fenghsuing Hsu and Thomas Anantharman at Carnegie Mellon University. The creators later joined IBM Corporation which supported the development of the system. Deep Thought was eventually renamed Deep Blue, a twist on IBM's corporation nick name, Big Blue. Deep Blue was a RS/6000 SP parallel processor with specialized microchips for chess and calculated 200 million chess moves per second. Deep Blue lost a six-game match to world chess champion, Gary Kasperov, in 1996. But in the 1997 rematch, Deep Blue made history by defeating Kasperov 3.5 games to 2.5 games.

Many in the chess world believe that Gary Kasperov is the greatest human chess player. He had never lost a game previously and was unnerved at his loss and began ascribing almost human features to the computer. While Deep Blue had access to all of Kasperov's games, Kasperov was not allowed to see Deep Blue's previous games for study. He received $400,000 for his loss and would have received $700,000 if he had won. IBM retired Big Blue after the match.

Another famous chess playing computer was Deep Fritz backed by a German company ChessSise and written by two programmers, Franz Marsh and Mathias Feist. The word, deep, is a nod to IBM's Deep Blue. Deep Fritz was in the news in 2001 when a chess match ended in a 4-4 tie with Russian chess expert, Vladimir Krammick.

In 2003, the long awaited chess match between Gary Kasperov and Deep Junior, a three-time world champion computer developed by Amir Ban and Shay Bushinksky who were both from Israel was played in New York City. The match ended in a 3.0 to 3.0 tie. Kasperov quipped to his mother, "at least I didn't lose." Well, this subject is getting too "deep" for me. Now I don't have to worry about anymore literary "moves" since I have been officially "checkmated."

This article has been provided to APCUG by the author solely for publication by APCUG member groups. All other uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).

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