Sunday, February 9, 2003
New York That's one small step for a man, one giant saving of face for mankind.
Chess legend Garry Kasparov, still smarting after his 1997 loss to a computer, agreed to a draw in the last game of his Man vs. Machine series with Israeli chess program Deep Junior. The six-game series, sanctioned by the sport's governing body, finished 3-3.
"I had one item on my agenda today: not to lose," Kasparov said after Friday's finale. "And a draw was a good result."
He said the series' five other games and "dangerous reminiscences" of his loss to an IBM supercomputer, seen by some as a watershed moment in technological advancement, weighed heavily on his mind.
"Unlike a machine, I can't forget the five previous games," he said. "For a human player to play under such conditions, it's a terrible burden."
Kasparov played himself into a superior position but offered a draw on the 23rd move, surprising chess experts at the New York Athletic Club. Deep Junior turned down the offer but presented its own draw five moves later, and Kasparov readily accepted -- to boos from the crowd.
Kasparov said he played better than Deep Junior in the deciding game and would have pressed for a win in a similar position against a human opponent. But, he said, he feared even a tiny mistake would have been severely punished by the computer.
"The machine will never collapse," he said, "but a human can never be so sure."
Kasparov, rated No. 1 by the governing body, the World Chess Federation, announced last month that he would take on Deep Junior, a computer created by two Israeli programmers that beat 18 other programs in a worldwide competition last summer.
One of Deep Junior's programmers, Shay Bushinsky, said that although the computer was challenging a human, it was no threat to humankind.
"Most chess officials feel that chess programs do benefit the game," he said.
Kasparov, widely regarded as the best chess player in history, was paid $500,000 by the World Chess Federation for playing and would have received $300,000 more had he won.
Kasparov, 39, rose to chess prominence as a Soviet junior champion in 1976, at age 12. He has held the world's No. 1 point-system ranking since 1984, despite occasional losses to humans, and has achieved almost mythic status in the chess world.
Deep Junior, which can process 3 million chess moves per second, is a three-time computer world champion and hasn't lost to a human in two years.