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Yuri E. Iserlis

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A battle of the chess geniuses for the honor of humanity
by Yuri E. Iserlis   
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Last edited: Friday, March 05, 2010
Posted: Friday, March 05, 2010

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Rather, it is a research how great chess players have fought with super-computers.


Rather, it is a research how great chess players have fought with super-computers. This topic has demanded a special approach simply because the description of the chess games require precision, and a description of supercomputers at least - minimal information about their power and software.
 Described below can clearly show how computer technology is changing our society, even in a part that has always been connected with the prerogative of man, and his intellect.
Not everyone knows that today, robots and computer systems can do almost everything that can make people, even in areas that require high intelligence. In this context, a very interesting to write about competition of computers to people, such as in chess tournaments.
Author Information Theory Claude Shannon in his famous article "Programming a computer for playing chess," published in March 1950, wrote: "The chess machine is ideal to start with it, because (1) the problem is clearly defined permissible operations (moves) and the ultimate goal (checkmate), (2) it is not too easy to be trivial, and not too difficult to obtain a satisfactory solution, and (3) believe that chess requires "thinking" for skillful play, this task will lead us either to that we admire the ability of mechanized thinking or to limit our concept of "thinking"...
Therefore, one of the first tasks in the field of "artificial intelligence", set by scientists, was just the man had to win at chess tournaments with computer. In the limit - to beat the best chess player on the planet, that is the world champion. The idea found enthusiastic and sponsors. Race began.
In 1968, David Levy, a Scottish international master in chess, made a famous bet with four luminaries in the field of artificial intelligence. Levy argued that no one single computer, equipped with the appropriate program, would  be able to win at chess against him within ten years. A number of computer chess developments accumulated in early 70's in the world, raised the question of establishing an association of chess programming. In 1977, the International Computer Chess Association (from 2002, it is International Computer games Association) was founded with the support of International Federation of Information Processing (IFIP). The first world championship for chess programs in 1974 was held as part of the next IFIP Congress in Stockholm. The winner of this contest was the Soviet chess program "Kaissa", created in Moscow, in the Institute of Management Problems of the Academy of Sciences. Legendary world champion Michael Botvinnik was among its developers.
In 1978, Levy in a six-game match won the bet by beating the computer program Chess v. 4.7, created in Northwestern University. He also won second 5-year bet in 1984, and then offered another prize for the chess victory over him. The computer Deep Thought equipped chess program won this prize in 1988, with the score 0-4. Deep Thought got the title of grandmaster from IBM.
 After David Levy, the world chess champion Garry Kasparov accepted this challenge. In 1985, he has already played a match of simultaneous game in chess against the thirty-two different computers in Hamburg with a score of 32: 0 in his favor. In 1989, Kasparov also easily beat the computer Deep Thought, in a match of the two parties.
To understand the importance of this victory, we must briefly consider the history of Deep Thought and Kasparov's rating as a chess player. Deep Thought (the name was taken from the popular trilogy of Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy ) was created for the game of chess. First was the project of Feng-Hsiung Hsu, Murray Campbell and Thomas Anataramana at Carnegie Mellon University called Chiptest (1985), and then this group moved to
the IBM-famous computer company, which had been interested in chess a long time before. They created Deep Thought (1988) that won the North American computer chess championship in 1988 and world computer chess championship in 1989. In 1994, Deep Thought 2 won the North American computer chess championship in the fifth time. In general, according to, in the matches between 1988 and 1994, the general count of Deep Thought was 69 victories and 26 defeats, his rating (Elo) was estimated at about 2600. For beginners chess rating is usually lower than 1000, chess grandmasters are estimated by numbers between 2500 and 2700. Rating chess champions is estimated about 2800.
Kasparov’s rating as a chess player was the highest in the world from February 1985 to January 2006 (until he left FIDE). Garry Kasparov has emerged as the new star in the chess world when he won a hard match of candidates with Anatoly Karpov in 1985. He was only 22 years old. To better understand the level of his (as well as Karpov's) game, it makes sense to give here only one quote from the article "The Last Battle of the Titans" of Alexey Polikovskiy in Novaya Gazeta: "... the two of them in my mind had already been almost no people. Observing their chess games I was impressed here two of the stranger played, who have in brains whirl of the turbine with frightening speed, and entering in the vein the invisible elixir of mind that helps take the thirty moves forward. “
In 1995, IBM employed world-class grandmaster Joel Benjamin as a consultant to prepare to the duel with Kasparov a chess-playing supercomputer Deep Blue, built on the basis of Deep Thought with the ability to evaluate 100 million chess positions per second.
In 1996, Deep Blue defeated Garry Kasparov in the first game. However, experienced grandmaster Kasparov won the next 3 parties and made 2 draws, winning the match.
In the article "Muscle Einstein, he wrote:" A couple of years ago I would have laughed if you asked me whether computers possess intelligence. These nonflexible devices, which are so easy to be outsmart, only knew how to quickly count. But the intelligence? Computers were not even able to notice the obvious similarity of positions. Instead, they counted every position again - with all their millions of opportunities. This is not intelligence. Now I am not so sure. The match against the computer Deep Blue monster in February 1996 in Philadelphia forced me to think again on this issue. There were moments when I got the feeling that these boxes may be much closer to intelligence than we would like to think. "
In 1997, an upgraded version of Deep Blue, which has unofficially called Deeper Blue, has won Kasparov with a score of 3 ½ -2 ½ in a six-game match c full-time control. In its final configuration supercomputer Deep Blue (height of 2 meters, weighing about one and a half tons) included 256 processors with the ability to evaluate 200 million chess positions per second. This was the first time in history, a computer beat world chess champion in match  play. The first time artificial intelligence defeated man. Kasparov did not admit that the computer is playing better and has accused his rivals of dishonesty on two counts: first, he argued that the grand master team serving the Deep Blue, violated the conditions of the match, intervened at critical moments in the game, and secondly, by his opinion, computer was programmed not to play chess - in general, but on the game with one, taken separately, the chess player Garry Kasparov.
After  triumph  the system Deep Blue, created in the laboratories of IBM, was dismounted and no longer participate in any event. Like the 11-th world champion Robert Fisher, this system has gone undefeated, leaving the world wondering what might happen next in the world of computer chess battles.
In January 2003, Kasparov played a match (6 parties) with another chess computer Deep Junior with a program developed by the Israeli programmers Amir Ban and Bushinsky Shayem in contest FIDE "Man versus Machine", with a prize of $ 1 million. The authors of the program six months before the start of the match gave to Kasparov a free version for training. Unlike Deep Blue, Deep Junior could analyze the 3 million transactions. David Levy was the chairman of the Arbitration Committee. This match ended in a draw, with the score 3-3.
The next match was in New York in November 2003. At a press conference before the game, grandmaster answered questions of correspondents:
"Cor. - You are going the fourth time to defend the honor of humanity in a duel with the computer. Are you satisfied with this?
“ Kasparov. - I am happy. Regular matches “man - machine” were my old dream. Confrontation of chess and artificial intelligence - one of the most interesting scientific social experiments of our time. As you know, chess is the only area in which human intuition and the creative force can be opposed by a calculation machine. .. "
In this game Kasparov played four games against the computer program X3D Fritz, using a virtual board, 3-D glasses and voice recognition. Kasparov had to play, using three-dimensional interface. He put on his glasses, similar to that issued in stereo cinemas. Two-dimensional image on the display for Kasparov looked like a three-dimensional board with figures floating in the air. The champion of the world managed figures with voice. X3D Fritz was a German chess program developed by the Dutchman Franz Morsch (project manager was Frederick Friedel from Germany). After two draws and one victory each, the match "Man vs Machine" has ended in a draw. The program X3D Fritz has worked on a computer with 4 processors, Intel Pentium 4 Xeon. The computer located in the playing hall, human intervention was impossible, so no fraud accuses was.
In 2002, another world champion Vladimir Kramnik, who won the chess crown from Garry Kasparov in 2000, tried to take revenge, having played eight matches against the chess 8-processor supercomputer Deep Fritz in Bahrain's capital Manama. The program "Deep Fritz” used database created by German specialist Frederick Friedel. All of the leading grandmasters of the world use this database and replenish it. Kramnik before the match was able to access this database too.
 Jacob Damskiy wrote in Novaya Gazeta ( "Here is a global issue, even cosmic: Will the next 30-50 years such a piece of iron play stronger than man? If you look a little further - will it remain the royal by millennia chess game, or it will become like "tic-tac-toe" game, where the outcome of the contest can be clear even before it started? Either one-step more ahead - will a machine replace the powerful human mind? "
To displeasure many fans the match ended with the score 4-4, with two victories for each participant, and four draws. In 2006 Kramnik played one more match against supercomputer Deep Fritz V.10 in Bonn, Germany. 10-th version of Deep Junior could analyze about 8 - 10 million positions per second. Count was 4:2 in favor of the computer. At the postgame press conference, Vladimir Kramnik admitted: "It was a very hard match. There were some very dramatic turns, and it took away a lot of energy. In the final game I did everything I could, but I could not find a path to victory."
Bottom line is  that the chess-playing supercomputers in official matches with the best chess players of the world, won in the reporting period, only 2 times out of 7. Chess geniuses defended the honor of humanity, but it was a Pyrrhic victory. Deep Blue, Deep Junior, and Deep Fritz’ winnings in some games and matches have shaken the attitude of chess as sport in public life.  Reviews of chess competitions slipped from the first lines of the media in the end of sporting chronicles. Now, it is even hard to tell who the world chess champion is. 
We can assume that all this is temporary, and outstanding fights can be in the nearest future. On the other side, we may say that above mentioned struggle has led to cooperation, because today any serious chess player works most of the time with a computer in preparation for a chess tournament, using both the power of machines, and comprehensive digital chess base.
Many people in the world are interested in answer to a question: does supercomputers successes mean that in the process of computing evolution, were created several computer systems with intelligence close or equal to human?
The answer can be found in the book of the author (Yuri Iserlis. "Artificial Intelligence Around Us"), which can be ordered via the Internet:, or the author's website:

Web Site: Clever Ace

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