NEW YORK In a sign that man retains the option not to lose to a superior chess-playing machine, Grandmaster Garry Kasparov opted to draw in the last of six games last Friday (Feb. 7) rather than risk losing to machine opponent Deep Junior after prolonged play.
"I had one item on my agenda today: Not to lose," Kasparov said. "So that's why I wanted to be absolutely safe. I decided it would be wiser to stop playing."
With the draw, Kasparov received $750,000 in prize money. The Deep Junior team of Amir Ban and Shay Bushinsky received $250,000 of the $1 million prize fund from World Chess Federation (FIDE, Fdration Internationale des checs).
Prior to facing Kasparov, Deep Junior and its creators won all possible titles in computer chess. Originally conceived as an off-hours hobby, Ban and Bushinsky eventually joined forces to develop and promote a chess program called Junior in 1993. Originally an amateur program, Junior went commercial in 1997, and has since been marketed by ChessBase as a game CD under the labels Junior and Deep Junior.
Deep Junior has played against the world's top human players, in regular tournaments as well as in exhibition matches. It is also the first program to have ever played in a national chess league in Israel.
Among chess programs, Deep Junior's style and vision of the game is considered unique. Its daring and enterprising style of play is said to be the antithesis of the mechanical style usually expected of chess programs. Many opponents, computer and human, have been caught off-guard.
After five games against Kasparov, the match was tied at two and a half points apiece. Deep Junior's risky choice of the black pieces in the opening gamed turned out to be decisive in the final game. Deep Junior, not Kasparov, would have the advantage of the white pieces.
In a 1997 match, Kasparov faced the same situation against predecessor Deep Blue. In one of the worst losses of his career, Kasparov was annihilated in 19 moves, the worst defeat Kasparov has ever been handed in a serious tournament game.
During last Friday's match, Kasparov launched a "Najdorf Defense" after five moves in the decisive sixth game. The gambit is considered the most aggressive opening in grandmaster play. As the most aggressive way to continue play, it also played to Deep Junior's strengths.
Momentarily confused, Deep Junior misplayed its pieces and drifted into a worse position. As the game progressed, however, the machine recovered and Kasparov said he saw no reason to continue. "We could have drawn out this play for the next twenty hours," he said. "But with the computer as the opponent, one false move and you're dead--there's no way of psyching a computer out."
Added a philosophical Kasparov, "Man and machine play different kinds of games. One can learn much from a computer's moves, but basically technology has caught up with the human strategic thinking process, but only by looking millions of moves ahead."
The match was sponsored by X3D Technologies, on whose site play by play of the six games is available. The match was watched by millions on the Internet and broadcast live on international sports television station ESPN2.