Sunday, April 26, 2009

Brilliance or Brute Force

Is brute force more brilliant than brilliance itself? This question could sound quite stupid if not considered seriously. Garry Kasparov, regarded as the greatest chess player in the world played a match – six games – against an IBM designed chess computer (Deep Blue) which mainly relied on brute force computing power, and the Deep Blue won the controversial match.

Garry Kasparov was born in Baku, Azerbaijan (U.S.S.R then) and won the world chess championship when he was 22 – thus becoming the youngest champion. He held the world champion title from 1985 till 2000. He is best known for his five matches against Anatoly Karpov, another Russian grandmaster in chess. He played with Deep Thought – a chess computer – in 1989 and won the match. In 1996, he played another match with a chess computer (Deep Blue)and won. In 2003, he played a match each with Deep Junior – An Israeli designed chess computer which won the computer chess championship - and X3D Fritz. Both the matches ended in a draw.

The most interesting match took place in 1997 between Kasparov and “Deeper Blue” (which is and upgraded version of Deep Blue), which was a rematch of 1996. Kasparov won the first game easily by tricking the computer into his way. He lost the second game in which the computer made a move which completely shocked the grandmaster. He was so confident that there was a human factor in play and said it's the “hand of God” in reference to the statement made by Maradona when he scored the world cup winning goal with his hand. He never recovered from the shock and finally lost the sixth and the final game after two draws.

Kasparov asked for the log files of the second game right after the match (in an attempt to prevent the IBM from tampering the file), but his request was rejected. He wasn't given access to see the computer or the room n which the computer was located. However, IBM published the log files on their website later. Kasparov requested the IBM team for a rematch, but the team rejected the request for rematch too. After the game, the “Deep Blue” was dismantled and one part was donated to Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. Kasparov viewed the rejection of log files and rematch, and dismantling of the computer as covering up evidence of tampering during the games.

The documentary film “Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine” was released in 2003 which documents the events during the match. The film ALMOST (I feel that the film takes a little biased stance towards Kasparov by comparing the computer to “the turks”, which was a hoax involving a chess playing machine built in 18th century, but secretly operated by human beings) takes a non-inclined position by presenting the views of both Kasparov and the developers of Deep Blue. The documentary is provided below and you can make your own stance on it. Happy watching if you can load it :)

By the way, look at the small teddy rabbit(?) which I won from claw vending machine. This is the first time I got something from that damn machine after playing several times over the years. I wish to close the chapter between me and those gambling machines for good now.


  1. Wow! Great Read! I am already looking up the torrent sites for the movies :P

  2. That was informative! I never knew about the controversy.

    haha..looks like I am better with claw machine than you. I have good collection from it..maybe around 4!