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Humans Hold Off the Machines... For Now 338

Murr writes "The six game match between Gary Kasparov and the Deep Junior program ended in a draw today. Kasparov won game 1 and lost game 3 to a blunder, while the other 4 games were drawn. While the quality of play was not outstanding, after the recent matches of Kramnik and Kasparov against commercial programs running on (high end) commodity hardware, it's becoming apparent that chess programs are getting quite competitive with top human players."
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Humans Hold Off the Machines... For Now

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's time for the humans to rise up and take the world back!
  • Go? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by smoondog ( 85133 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @02:35PM (#5259514)
    While computer programs that can play chess are quite sophisticated, Go is a really cool game that is very difficult to play well (from a computer's perspective). I think computer vs human Go matches would be much more interesting now,

    • Re:Go? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by wass ( 72082 )
      I've heard that it is relatively easy for a Go newcomer to beat some of the most sophisticated Go computer programs. I believe there are even rewards available for writing Go programs that can beat advanced players.

      That said, can someone venture an explanation why Go is so difficult to program? (I don't know how to play). Do the possible future moves diverge much more quickly than chess? (I've seen a Go board, and it seems to have significantly more spaces than a chess board, which taken to the Nth power can add up bigtime). Is it such that a computer can't practically look too far ahead in the game?

      If that's the reason, then Go is really interesting because a computer cannot just brute-force it's strategies, and some semblence of actual AI (stress the I) needs to be accounted for.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Check this link: ew.html []
      • Re:Go? (Score:5, Informative)

        by harlows_monkeys ( 106428 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @03:41PM (#5259951) Homepage
        That said, can someone venture an explanation why Go is so difficult to program?

        For most of the game, there are many more moves available than in chess, and it usually takes many more moves for a bad move to have an obvious affect.

        In Chess, a positional mistake can usually be converted to a material loss in 10 or 15 moves. In Go, a positional mistake can take much much longer to lead to a territory loss.

        • Re:Go? (Score:3, Informative)

          by Phs2501 ( 559902 )
          For most of the game, there are many more moves available than in chess, and it usually takes many more moves for a bad move to have an obvious affect.

          Also, an evaluation function for a board position in Go is very complicated, depending on the life or death of stone groups on the board. The only way to determine life or death is to effectively know how to best play out the remainder of that area and see who comes out alive. This is very difficult for a computer, since the evaluation function is what makes your min/max algorithm work.

      • by beej ( 82035 )
        That said, can someone venture an explanation why Go is so difficult to program?

        Part of it is the complexity of the lookahead tree, I'm sure. On a 19x19 Go board, you can play in any empty intersection (excepting suicide) at any time. Tree sizes grow fast, and you can't just build a big one for the whole board.

        So you do things more locally. Utilize a mixture of small lookaheads, liberty counting, and lots and lots of pattern matching, so when the computer sees a pattern, it knows where to play in the pattern to make life, or kill.

        Doing things locally, though, has drawbacks, since sometimes playing a stone many stones away from a group has impact on a fight later on. Go programs tend to miss the overall, but will fight well in a corner.

        I'm a newbie, so I can beat GnuGo about half the time, and am very stoked when I can win a drag out fight for a corner of the board. Practice!

        Go is a great, great game. It is elegant and beautiful. The rules can be learned in minutes--I highly recommend giving it a try if you haven't already.

        And, as they say, lose your first 50 games as quickly as possible. :-)

    • Re:Go? (Score:3, Informative)

      by tpengster ( 566422 )

      I think computer vs human Go matches would be much more interesting now,

      Computer Go isn't advanced enough to make the matches interesting. Not too long ago a professional 1-dan (9-dan being the highest rank) played against a computer program giving it a 25 stone advantage. The human still won. (For those of you who haven't played go, 25 stones is HUGE. That would be like giving up a queen, two rooks, and both bishops)

      • There's probably something about high-handicap games that makes computers inherently worse players. Besides, there's the "play inside your own territory" effect, where the computer would have all these stones inside its own territory lowering its score slightly, while the human would be getting points (3. Profit!) from any black stones he surrounded.

        It's probably also a nasty worst-case test of territorial evaluation in terms of the give-and-take necessary to come out a few points ahead. Plus, lots of computer programs play much less agressively when they evaluate themselves as many points ahead, to avoid making risky moves that could end up in large-point blunders.

    • Re:Go? (Score:5, Funny)

      by sandow ( 556415 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @03:36PM (#5259927) Journal

      My favourite game is "Interpersonal Human Relationships". Computers totally suck at that.

      Once I met a woman in a bar who was dating an HP calculator. After talking to me for 30 seconds she ditched the calculator. Four years later, the calculator is still waiting for her to come back from the ladies room.

    • Yes Go breaks down in ways that are a mess to evaluate currently. But think about it: thirty years ago a human beating chess computer would be only on an episode of Star Trek. And I mean beating ANY human.

      Now computers can hold their own to the top Grandmasters of chess.

      If in ten years computers started to gain against Go playing humans I'm sure someone would try to find another game that computers suck in and say "I think computer vs human GameX matches would be more interesting".

      Just don't let the last man vs machine game be between John Conner vs machine! :)
      • But think about it: thirty years ago a human beating chess computer would be only on an episode of Star Trek.

        Which brings up the question: Why no Go in Star Trek?

        Real world (and boring) answer: because nobody involved in Star Trek production in the mid-60's (or mid-90's) had ever heard of it.

        Cool in-story answer: because when the Vulcans first started researching Earth culture, they found this incredibly elegant (if you aren't a complete rules weenie) and difficult game. They were so embarassed about not having discovered it themselves (and embarassed just about being embarassed in the first place) that they set about burying the game for all time. It's a major political incident whenever the game is mentioned to a Vulcan.

        • Star Trek: chess++.

          Majel^H^H^H^H^HGene Roddenberry's Andromeda: go++

          Interesting scene in one of the early season one episodes (Banks of the Lethe, maybe? Nah... I dunno which one) where Hunt is playing his first officer and discovers that he's cheating. Caught, he defends with "well, of course I've been cheating. Haven't you?" Probably one of the best scenes for establishing the Nietzschean character motivation.

          I haven't seen any of season 3... is the show still any good, anyone?
    • Every time the topic o chess surfaces immediately there is a "Go is great" loser pushing they favourite game?

      Yes, we know it is great, it is the best game ever invented by the human race.

      Now, can you keep that information to yourself while talking about chess?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    it's becoming apparent that chess programs are getting quite competitive with top human players

    I should think so, especially when the computer is programmed in part by chess experts, and plays more like a chess player than a computer.

    From the NY Times []:

    On the 10th move, Deep Junior flamboyantly sacrificed its dark-squared bishop for a lowly pawn to lure Kasparov's king into the open. "When a machine willingly gives up a piece against you, one thought goes through your head," said Mr. Greengard. "It's a thought you can't print in a family newspaper. Your second thought is, `So, should I just resign?' "
  • Reason for the draw. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rewtie ( 552738 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @02:41PM (#5259574) Homepage Journal
    I watched this last night on ESPN or ESPN2.

    The reason Kasparov gave for the match, and the championship ending in a draw was that it was better to draw than to lose.

    He claimed that while a human player would have the memories of past moves and past games to deal with, the computer would not. The computer simply makes the 'best' move for the given situation, and then waits to do the same thing again. The human player would consider moves he/she made in the past, compare the situation to others they may have had, second-guess the moves they might have made, and so forth.

    It was interesting to see Kasparov attack, and then ask for a draw (which was denied) and then, two moves later, end the game in a draw.
    • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @03:31PM (#5259913) Homepage Journal
      I watched this last night on ESPN or ESPN2.

      Chess is a sport? I've heard that Contract Bridge has been suggested as an Olympic sport. Hmm. Is it too much to hope for computer games as an Olympic sport? :-)

      Commentator: "Jones moves his elf into Manlobbi's shop, the little dog picks up a spear, the tension is incredible, will the little dog drop it in the doorway, has Jones trained the dog eith enough tripe rations?"

      John Madden: "I know what a dog would do for tripe rations, and I've tried them myself, they're really good with some fries and ketchup... etc."

    • I followed the games in real time (I like to try and predict the moves by myself.) The last game was drawn because there was not enough time to end the game. It looked like Kasparov had advantage on the board, it is too bad they do not continue to play after the time is up. I think the last game could be won by the human. On the other hand there was a game where Deep Junior really surprized everyone sacrificing a bishop, that game was drawn, but noone really knows whether the human could win or the computer was right doing what it did.
      I really liked that move by computer, it stunned Kasparov.

      Overal, I think, computer is still not strong enough against the top champion if more time was given to the human, but this will end soon. Put Deep Junior onto the same iron that Deep Blue was running on and watch it kill every human in every computer game ever.
      • Actually this is not true. Each player still had about 40 minutes remaining to make another 15 or so moves, in the final position. And then another hour would have been added to each player's clock for each set of 20 moves following that.
        The time is never up, in theory the game could have lasted for days (or years!).

        In the post-match interview, Kasparov said he wanted to draw because the position was too complicated. If you heard the word 'time', it may have been in a context such as "I don't have enough time to work out all the complications" (meaning that Kasparov would reach the time controls before he was able to analyze the position to his content).
  • mandatory go plug (Score:5, Informative)

    by dollargonzo ( 519030 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @02:42PM (#5259577) Homepage
    chess is nice, but most progresses in chess have been due to speed increases in hardware and optimizations, hence allowing the computer to overpower the human with depth of search. On top of that, the evaluation functions are rather primitive, with lots of factors, but fail rather miserably without a great depth of search. New developments such as Logistello's statistical forward alpha cutoff called multiprobcut [] is the interesting development, IMHO

    • Wrong (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tpengster ( 566422 )

      chess is nice, but most progresses in chess have been due to speed increases in hardware and optimizations, hence allowing the computer to overpower the human with depth of search.

      Because search is exponential, speed increases in hardware won't have much effect on search depth. For example, it might take a 1000-fold increase in speed to increase search depth by 2. The real improvements have been in better search algorithms, heuristics, and tuned evaluation functions. Chess is easier than go for two reasons: 1) the branching factor is a lot smaller, so less to search; 2) evaluation is MUCH easier.

    • chess is nice, but most progresses in chess have been due to speed increases in hardware and optimizations, hence allowing the computer to overpower the human with depth of search. On top of that, the evaluation functions are rather primitive

      Deep Blue had 418 processors, and evaluated 200 million positions per second.

      Deep Junior has eight processors, and evaluates 3 million moves per second.

      More importantly, your point is irritatingly raised every time a computer chess article comes up. Your calculator doesn't actually know even how to add two numbers. Instead, it uses bitwise logic operators, so that the result looks like it added the two numbers. So what? Even the cheapest calculator can add non-trivial numbers more quickly and more accurately than any human.

      It does not matter how Deep Junior comes up with the moves to tie the best human player in the world, in a match that Kasparov ensured was fair. It's Kasparov's advantage that he can think in the abstract. It's Deep Junior's advantage that it can make many simple calculations very quickly. Asking Deep Junior to play like Kasparov is exactly like asking Kasparov to play like Deep Junior.

      • But the really interesting fact is that computer programs are in development that can mimic the play of particular chess players, not simply play well (very important for users who don't want to play against a grand master opponent). These programs are not simply evaluating possible moves for whether they would win the game, they are evaluating them in terms of whether the specified human would play them. This means that the computer has to understand the sorts of features that people care about and leads to a much more human-like intelligence than the very mechanical traditional chess AI.
    • If it plays like a human, wins like a human, and for all purposses is close to better the human (in this certainly narrow area), why should I give a fuck about how this is achieved?

      If you did not know how this is done, what difference would it make as long as the final result (machines bettering human performance in hthis game) is the same?
  • Computers have conquered chess. So what? It's a game in which brute force techniques are quite effective. When we have to black out the sky to keep Deep Fritz and his friends from beating up old men playing chess in the park, you might need to worry. But this doesn't really matter.

    And what's the deal with the draws? Four draws out of six games? That just makes chess seem really inane to me. The requisite Go reference: With komi rules, there are never any draws (White gets at least 0.5 points, usually 5.5, for going second, thus eliminating draws), and the whole man vs. machine thing gets much more interesting, because brute force just doesn't work very well in Go!

    • The requisite Go reference: With komi rules, there are never any draws

      which really only shows that one side has an advantage.
      • The komi rule is there to counteract the advantage that black necessarily has by going first.
        • i get it, but the fact that there's always a winner no matter how evenly matched the opponents implies that one side has an advantage, depending on how much komi
          • Even if two players are evenly matched, the fact that one player gets to move first means that the game wouldn't end in a draw if both players played to the best of their (equal) abilities. Komi gives an advantage to white to make up for black's advantage in going first. In the end, komi makes things much more equitable for players of equal strengths than the game would be if black got first play and white got no compensation, with the added bonus that there can't be any ties.
    • In Go terms, this would be like a 9-dan forcing a triple ko, which is very much a draw (unless you're using superko, which isn't normally used in pro games). Or for a more common example, like making seki, which is a local draw situation. (And after all, Chess is a battle, Go is a war.)
  • Man makes machine.. man uses machine.. man teaches machine chess.. machine beats man at chess.. machine conquers world..

    So thats where the matrix came from..
  • by $$$$$exyGal ( 638164 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @02:44PM (#5259595) Homepage Journal
    I've been keeping track of those games, and what I found most amazing was that Kasparov played so cautiously. If the last game he played would have been against a human player (who played the same moves), I don't think he would have accepted the draw. It seems he accepted the draw because he was psychologically spent, especially when thinking of his loss to Deep Blue several years ago.

    --naked []

    • what I found most amazing was that Kasparov played so cautiously

      Kasparov's cautious play was, I think, a deliberate thing, not due to his bad experience against Deep Blue (or, at least, not completely). After the first game, I think he realized what kind of game Junior plays. It is so strong at evaluating tactics that trying to play the open, attacking style that Kasparov usually prefers is very risky. However, it seemed to be fairly weak at evaluating more general, strategic thinking, so Garry played more defensive, positional, subtly developing games. This lead to him taking an advantage in the opening in every single game.

      However, this also exposed a second strength of the computer: it is an impeccable defender that severely punishes any foolhardy attacks. It doesn't get demoralized, frustrated, or tired. It can't be intimidated and will never give up (at least, until its operators decide enough is enough). It's kinda like the Terminator in that sense :^).

      All in all, that makes for an opponent who, although easy to gain an advantage over, is extremely difficult to beat. I think that, after the first three games, Kasparov was no longer playing to win, he simply wanted to avoid losing.

  • So if Chess is a game of tactics and logic, the next wars we fight might be won or lost by machine instead of Generals. Is it me or is there something unetical about that?
  • But they still can't make a Quake bot that won't run around a corner unarmed. . .
  • how does this mean that computers are improving? it just means that we can write better code for makeing choices. yet all in all i don't see how this shows anything for a machine because it reviews thousands of moves a second were a human can probly do 5 a second at best. if it shows anything it shows that machines are further behind then we think. until machines can reason out choices like a human they will never be close. they got speed to their advantage that is all.
  • Kasparov was probably tired after 5 games, and perhaps was afraid of making a blunder. Deep Junior on the other hand would be playing just as well as in the first game.

    I think Kasparov should have continued and shown the machine who's boss :-)

    Good to see it was televised too - all good for getting more people into chess.
  • Explanation (Score:5, Informative)

    by br00tus ( 528477 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @02:50PM (#5259656)
    For those of you who are unfamiliar with chess or computer chess, I'll explain how this works...

    A chess game can be broken into three parts, the opening, the middle game, and the endgame.

    Computers play the endgame *perfectly*. They do not make mistakes, they play perfectly. And they keep getting better. Originally, they played perfectly when 3 pieces were left on the board. Then 4. Then 5. Then 6. Their pefect playing keeps heading more and more towards the middle of the game.

    Then we get to what they play second-best - openings. Computers play the opening as well as any opening ever played. They have every opening ever played by a top player in a "book", and with the generally agreed opinions of the top players what the best opening moves are. One advantage of the computer is it has all of this "memorized" in it's book within massive databases, whereas for a human it's difficult to retain this all, especially in an up-to-date manner. The one advantage a human player has here is he can discover a NEW opening variation, while the computer can't, or at least it won't under these circumstances. But finding new good variations is very difficult, and once one is played, the cat is out of the bag so to speak. So it's a very time-consuming thing to search for which can only be used once to great effect because it's a surprise.

    The middle game is where the human player, if he or she is very good, has the most advantage over a computer. Tactically, the computer can wipe the floor with any human player. But human's can strategize better than computers. It's to the human's advantage to play in certain ways against the computer - such as to keep the game "closed up", to advance pawns towards the queening square and so forth. In this case, the computer often can't see the forest for the trees, what would be obvious to even a lower-rated human the computer can not comprehend.

    So middle game strategy (and to a lesser extent, new opening variations) is where humans still have the advantage. Kasparov has always used this to the hilt. There are some grandmasters like Yasser Seirawan who make a specialty out of beating computers as well (one mark against Seirawan is thar his books on chess are printed by Microsoft Press...yech). There is material out there on the net on how to beat computers as well. But you have to be a really good player to even get near that level - it takes a lot of study before you could even begin approaching that.
    • Re:Explanation (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mikec ( 7785 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @03:32PM (#5259919)
      1. Until very recently, end games have been the weak point of computer programs. Not withstanding end-game databases, which allow them to play a few endings perfectly, they have trouble making plans if there are more than a half-dozen pieces on the board. Recently, they've gotten a lot better, but they are still far from perfect.

      2. Openings should be a strong point for computers, but Gary got an advantage in the opening in *every* game in the match. As you point out, the problem for computers is that humans look at their opponents openings, try to figure out weak points, and prepare traps for their opponents. Computers don't do this yet.

      3. As you say, in the middle game, computers display a strange dichotomy. In quiet positions, they make stupid moves. E.g., in a couple games with Gary the computer played h3 (P-KR3), a move that had nothing to do with the game and weakened the kingside. On the other hand, they are deadly tacticians. Once Gary commited to an attack, things became tactical and the computer was very tough to beat; it found lots of weird-looking defenses that just barely worked.
      • P-KR3

        I loathe that notation. That's the great thing about computers, they will do something really stupid if they have no "good moves" but only wait till the opponent does something they can exploit.

        There are many "computer crushing" techniques people can use to completely dominate most computers. I believe it is Tal that has prowess at this, mostly because of his fairly "different" style of play.
        • There are many "computer crushing" techniques people can use to completely dominate most computers. I believe it is Tal that has prowess at this, mostly because of his fairly "different" style of play.

          Tal's different style of play might be due the fact that he has been dead for years.

      • I'd say computers play openings exactly as well as the people who program them, since they're playing out a book and the book is simply entered into the program by the programmer. Well, Kasparov is the strongest player in the world partly because he's better at openings than anyone else. As much as 50 Elo points of his strength (out of his ~2800) has been credited to his opening preparation. He is possibly the world's best opening theorist in his own right, and he also pays a team of players to constantly sit around analyzing openings for him and feed him new tricks that they find. So it's no surprise that he beat the computer in the opening.

        You're completely correct about endings--computers play a limited class of endings perfectly, those they have databases for (5 piece and some 6 piece endings). If you look at a Rubinstein type of strategic ending with knight+bishop+2 pawns vs 2 knights and 3 pawns or something like that, computers aren't especially better off.

        F-H Hsu (designer of Deep Blue) claims there are still tactical positions where humans do better than computers, because humans sometimes know to keep searching when a computer might think a position had run out of possibilities. Hsu's invention of "singular extensions" was designed to combat that effect.

        Finally there's a famous chess cliche that sums up what we're all saying here: a great player plays the opening like a book, the middlegame like a magician, and the ending like a machine. Computers are good at playing both like books and like machines; they still have to work on "magician".

    • Re:Explanation (Score:3, Informative)

      by SamBeckett ( 96685 )
      1. They suck at openings as soon as they are out of book. See every match with Garry vs. DJ. See game 1 in particular.

      2. They suck at middle game. They are tactically perfect, true. But at and above the expert level, tactics aren't that important. Strategy is, and a computer, AFAIK, does not know A. How to make a plan B. make moves according to a plan.

      3. They suck at the end game. Badly. Unless there are only 6 or less pieces left on the board.
      As such, a six man tablebase is the only thing feasible right now b/c of the massive size involved.
    • Re:Explanation (Score:2, Informative)

      by Old Wolf ( 56093 )
      The endgame is only played perfectly for positions that the computer has tablebases for (all 3, 4, or 5 piece positions, and only some [] 6 piece positions). However the endgame can be reached with 20 or more pieces on the board.

      Computers have a reputation for being bad at endgames that aren't in their tablebase (or nearly in it). If you have watched a Grandmaster analyse an ending then this will be clear. The way the human thinks is: "Given that the pawns are like they are, I want my King here (points to square), my Rook here (points) ... and I want to stop my opponent getting his King to here (points)".

      The human knows from experience and study that if the pieces are in those positions then the game is won. The computer does not know this (it is a heuristic quality that the computer may be programmed with, but humans have an advantage of being able to recognize when the position is one that these rules apply, and what the exceptions are).

      The human then begins to look at sequences of moves which will end up in the pieces getting to where he wants them (and prevent the opponent's pieces getting to where the opponent wants them).

      On the other hand, the computer is just exploring almost completely by brute force (positional factors mean much less, or absolutely nothing, in endgames. Computers will often rate a position as +2.5 , or even +4, when humans can see that it is clearly drawn. This even happened in the Kasparov - DJ match where the computer had a passed pawn in a rook ending and thought it was +2.5, but Kasparov knew he was safe).
      The computer will only win the ending if its brute force tree is big enough that it stumbles into a tactic, or into its tablebase.

      Ending play is also a good gauge of a human's strength: great players are great endgame players.

      Now, onto the openings. The computer's opening book is not necessarily an advantage. Sure, the book has moves, but are they the best moves? In the Kramnik - Deep Fritz match, Kramnik analysed the book before the match and found positions that were in the book but where the book's evaluation was wrong (that is to say, the book's programmers gave a line saying "this is good for me", but the line was actually good for the opponent and the programmers hasn't realised).

      Human grandmasters follow the latest developments in opening theory and are able to steer the openings into ones that they know well. The human also has the great advantage of knowing what sort of opening moves translate to what sort of middlegame positions.

      Consider the last game of Kasparov - DJ. That surely was in the computer's opening book for some time. But Kasparov knew that once the opening book ran out, the computer would not have a clue what to do because the position was one in which both players have to shuffle their pieces around behind their ranks preparing for the right moment to strike. The only way to know a good move is to have experience in the positions and know what squares will turn out to be good ones once the action begins. This was reflected in the match play, the computer mucked around horribly until Kasparov was nice enough to offer it a draw.
  • by humblecoder ( 472099 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @02:50PM (#5259661) Homepage
    Here in the US, the sixth and final match was televised on the cable channel ESPN 2. I was channel surfing and I happened to stumble across it. To my surprise, it was actually quite interesting to watch on TV.

    I am not a big chess freak, so I would have guessed that watching chess would be a lot like watching paint dry. However, it was made interesting by the "play-by-play" analysts who were chess masters themselves. They did a good job of explaining the moves, and also the psychology and strategy of chess at the grand master level. It really gave me a lot of insight into what goes on at when chess is played at such a high level.

    After the match ended in a draw, they interviewed Kasparov. It was interesting to get his reaction to the match. Basically, his goal for the game was to "not lose", which is why he offered a draw from a very strong position. He didn't want to take a chance of making a blunder like he did in the third game of the match.

    It seemed like the key advantage that the computer has in this situation is the fact that it doesn't have an ego to deal with. After losing to Deep Blue in 1997, it seemed like Kasparov was very afraid of losing to another computer in such a high-profile match. That definitely affect the way he approached the game.

    The computer, on the other hand, is just calculating moves, so psychology doesn't factor into how it plays. To me, this seems like the biggest advantage that a computer has over a human player.

    Also, he seemed to have more respect for this computer program than he did for Deep Blue. Apparently, he had a lot of problems with Deep Blue and how the 1997 match was handled. It could be sour grapes, of course, so I took his comments with a grain of salt.
    • The computer, on the other hand, is just calculating moves, so psychology doesn't factor into how it plays. To me, this seems like the biggest advantage that a computer has over a human player.

      One problem with this "advantage":

      Shall we play a game?
  • by Henry V .009 ( 518000 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @02:51PM (#5259666) Journal
    I think that human chess is still qualitatively better than computer chess. Exhaustion was a big factor in this last match up. The computer didn't feel it, but Kasparov did. Therefore the outcome doesn't tell us much about the level of the chess. If Kasparov could have played fresh every game, my guess is that his chess would have been better.

    Human chess has qualities that computer chess still can't match up to. If we were really interested in measuring the level of computer chess we'd try to eliminate for factors such as weariness or stress as best we could. After all, chess is something more than that. We already know that computers will out-endure humans and there is nothing to be learned there.
  • by abhinavnath ( 157483 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @02:51PM (#5259678)
    Something of a chess novice, I watched this game on ESPN2 yesterday, and I was very confused that Kasparov offered Deep Junior a draw immediately after his rook sacrifice. ESPN's analyst thought, and I agreed, that Kasparov was in a relatively strong position. However Kasparov spent 15 minutes debating that sacrifice. Did he see something nobody else saw? Does anybody here know why he offered a draw, why Deep Junior rejected the offer, and why they agreed to draw a couple of moves later?
    • by tapin ( 157076 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @03:16PM (#5259845)
      The post-match interview explained this a bit -- basically, Kasparov psyched himself out in that fifteen minutes, trying to determine if the rook sacrifice was the blunder that would cost him the match, since Junior can capitalize on mistakes better than a human can (or so Kasparov claimed).

      Even though he was in a much stronger position, he was spent; worrying about whether the next move would be the move that cost him the match, and made him the two-time world-champion loser-of-a-major-computer-match.

      He agreed to a draw a few moves later once Junior et al realized they were in an extremely weak position.

      Seems to me it was a pretty wussy way to end it. Junior got lucky. If you're up five runs in the fourth, you still don't pray for rain even if the other team's got a monster closer.

  • Wait a second here...

    Kasparov can't beat the computer.
    Kasparov is World Champion.
    I can't beat GNUChess.
    That means I'm world champion quality!!!!

    Oh, my God! I'm as good as Kasparov! I KNEW IT!!!

    I can't wait to tell mom she was wrong about me. I'm NOT an idiot! Hahahahaha! Take *that*, mom!
  • by porky_pig_jr ( 129948 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @02:53PM (#5259696)
    is part of the whole game, isn't it? And this is where machine has a good potential. A human can improvise but also make the mistakes. Machine follows the program and can't improvise, but it also can't make a 'blunder'. So the bottom line is that the fact that both games were lost 'in a blunder' is no excuse. A draw is a draw is a draw.
  • Quality of play (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Russellkhan ( 570824 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @02:54PM (#5259702)
    "While the quality of play was not outstanding"

    Just what are we comparing this to? Isn't Kasparov one of the top players in the world, if not the very top? I've read in some articles that he's considered by some to be the best player ever.
    • Re:Quality of play (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Scarblac ( 122480 ) <> on Saturday February 08, 2003 @03:51PM (#5259999) Homepage

      "While the quality of play was not outstanding"

      Just what are we comparing this to?

      Kasparov's own standards. Especially the mistake he made that made him lose one game, as well as the way he was surprised in the opening in game 5, are examples of Kasparov playing below his very best level.

      The cliche answer would be to say that Kasparov isn't as good against computers because he can't use his intimidating presence, and he has to be more careful than usual because a computer's style is a good fit to defend against Kasparov's attacks.

      On the other hand, Kramnik's cliched image is the exact opposite, and he also drew a computer, so whatever :-)

  • by Joe the Lesser ( 533425 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @02:54PM (#5259708) Homepage Journal
    Soon, the machines will rise, and with their infinite chess knowledge, will build armys of knights, rooks, and bishops. And my brothers, if we do not repent, we will be the pawns!
  • Last time he said that the computer put him off by constantly humming.
  • So what? (Score:5, Funny)

    by xigxag ( 167441 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @02:57PM (#5259723)
    I don't see how this is an improvement over 20 years ago.

    The board would disappear while the machine was thinking...and sometimes the machine would give itself extra pieces...or it might forget the moves, but still, ZX-80 kicked ass!
  • Ya... (Score:2, Funny)

    by RebelTycoon ( 584591 )
    But we loose in 2029... So what does it matter...
  • What other games can we use in the future to test a computer's AI, after this draw in Chess (Kasparov) and Tic-Tac-Toe (War Games)???
  • Trying to play for a win, Kasparov sacrificed an exchange for two pawns. Unexpectedly Kasparov offered a draw soon after the sacrifice, and the computer team declined! But two moves later a surprise draw was in fact agreed.

    As Tartakover would say: It's always better to sacrifice your opponent's men.
  • by Jayson ( 2343 ) <> on Saturday February 08, 2003 @03:04PM (#5259779) Homepage
    Game tree search is a very well understood problem and most top programs use some version of a null-window negascout (ID-DFS) with opening and closing databases. The most black magic in these systems is in their heuristic evaluation functions.

    Backgammon programs used to compete at only a moderate level until Gerald Tesauro's TD-gammon [] (and predecessors). I wonder if there will ever be a breakthrough of equal proportions in chess? If so, humans would have very little change against computers (I hate to say never, because of absolute freaks like Marion "I am programmed by God" Tinsley []).
    • I wish I knew what the big deal is about checkers. When I first found out there are checkers world championships, I was shocked. How competetive can it be? I don't see how every game between two people slightly smarter than a pillow doesn't end in a draw.

      • I used to think this, too, until Mr. Checkers in Harvard Square gave me a 45 minute lesson. Did you know that you can manipulate who will eventually lose a piece by making sure that you have an odd number of pieces on a column at the end of the move, as long as your opponent has an even number?

  • 16. Let's just say that in the movie version of your life, you'd be played by Pauly Shore.

    15. Your idea of "conquering Deep Blue" involves employing your gastro-intestinal system to attack the Tidy Bowl man.

    14. The computer: A highly sophisticated electronic brain from IBM. You: A highly intoxicated electrician from NJ.

    13. Before moving your queen, you insist on consulting Eddie Murphy.

    12. Computer: lauded by scientists for its ability to calculate millions of chess moves per minute. You: lauded by fraternity buddies for your ability to pass gas and burp simultaneously.

    11. You can't make a single move without thinking of huge juicy shrimp.

    10. In your circle, "castling" means holing-up in your trailer with an AK-47 and a bottle of bourbon.

    9. Your "garlic breath" strategy fails to intimidate this particular opponent.

    8. Your populist leanings always result in you inciting your pawns to wipe out their own king and queen.

    7. Kasparov's idol: Bobby Fisher. Your idol: Eddie Fisher.

    6. The press has nicknamed you "Deep Doo."

    5. You plan to use the "James T. Kirk Strategy" -- talk the computer into blowing itself up.

    4. Video tapes of you shouting at the ATM are legendary among the bank security staff.

    3. Computer: Intel Inside. You: Imbecile Inside.

    2. After your move, you slap the computer monitor and shout, "King me, Pentium-breath!"

    1. You counter *every* move with a "Smirnoff opening."

    from here []
  • More Information (Score:5, Informative)

    by Resseguie ( 602552 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @03:10PM (#5259815) Homepage
    Here are more links I collected when submitting this story...

    Does anyone have a good link describing the programmers behind Deep Junior? All I could find were news articles and press releases. I'd like to read more information about their strategy, search algorithms, etc.


    • No, but there are some major chess links you should probably know about.

      The Week in Chess: TWIC []

      It's big, it's commercial, it's Chessbase []

    • Commercial chess programmers (there are about a dozen that I know about) don't say too much about how their programs work. (Deep) Junior is claimed to be a rather speculative program. I think since 1995 either Junior or the German program Shredder has won every world championship for computer chess (some of these were "micro" events).

      I met Amir and Shay at the World Computer Chess Championships in Maastricht 2002. They both give a slight impression of not being approachable, but they are generally friendly to talk to. At the Award Ceremony at the end, they both made incredibly gracious speeches. A class act all round, in my opinion.

  • I'd be very interested in seeing a match between Kasparov using a computer and Deep Junior. This would allow him to access an opening move database, and end game database and do enough analysis to avoid blunders.

    Kasparov suggested this after his match with Deep Blue. I predict that a computer augmented GM would hold out against a computer opponent for many years to come.

    • Kasparov suggested this after his match with Deep Blue. I predict that a computer augmented GM would hold out against a computer opponent for many years to come.

      Considering that the human would have all his normal advantages over the computer, while having all of the COMPUTER'S advantages as well, I'd be SURPRISED if a computer assisted GM didn't win consistantly.
  • Isn't this the current score of recent matches:
    Machines (1-0-2), Humans (0-1-2)? I mean we haven't even won yet.
    • What you mean is that we haven't won recently. If you're claiming that Tal and Grandmasters of yesteryear would have had any problems tearing a 1970's "silicon^H^H^H^H^H cellophane monster" limb from limb then you're hallucinating. Furthermore, A computer will never actually be able to play chess, because we can't teach it to program it's own openings. We still haven't gotten past playing the opening book for it. All computer chess proves is that computers can make a lot of calculuations, and fast. (Shocking, huh?)
  • It's clear that top-rated chess machines are now roughly on par with top-rated chess humans. So let's quit having these head-to-head week-long grudge matches.

    Load each software on really nice computers, put the computers on wheeled carts with a UPS battery underneath, and allow them to compete in ordinary chess tournaments just like the humans do.

    Then we'll see whether these programs can handle multiple opponents with different strategies. They'll build up ranking points, and a match record that can be analyzed. Let's see how long it takes for a machine to work its way up, win, and successfully defend the world title.

    Aside from silly notions of player pride, why not?
  • WTF? How can a championship end in a draw?

    Who was officiating? Bud Selig?

    In NYC. I mean, how un-American is that?

    Oh wait...
  • ...I wanna see him beat me at buy or not to buy? :-)
  • the computers can beat the top human kickboxers...
  • In Chess, anything but a big human victory is a big human defeat.

    I remember being at Humber College in 75, one of the programmers there was a rated Expert named Barry Sax who assured me he could defeat any program and he could, in 75.

    Then IM David Levy won his bet in a match against chess 4.5 at the CNE which I could have gone to but didn't to my regret, but that was it for humanity.

    Walter Browne become the first GM to lose to a computer when someone brought a portable chess machine to a simultaneous exhibition of his and beat him with it (He WAS playing 100 other people at the same time...)

    The Ken Thompson's HiTech came to fruition with Deep Blue (Is there ANYTHING this guy didn't touch for the better? Only Claude Shannon was more awesome.) and Kasparov was beaten - and folded like a bully who finally lost a fist fight.

    And NOW you can buy a multi CPU box that plays at 2800 strength. That would have crushed Barry Sax.

    In ten (Maybe five) years computer will be rated 3000+ and the championship will be between them exclusively.

    Well, there's always Go and Taasen.

  • I think we should already forget the chess and move along. It's only matter of time until somebody (or should I say, something?) comes up with a perfect play of chess. My guess is that it'll be a move sequence that quarantees a draw for the white. After that, once you get black, you have no change to win.

    The only question is how long such game would be in turns. That's imporant because if that's "long" then finding even one will take quite some time. IIRC there's a joke in Futurama where robots are playing chess. There's a chess board with all the pieces in the starting positions. The winner only says "Mate in 143 moves" and the loser says "Oh man, you win again". I'm afraid that joke is closer to reality than many of us would want to believe.

    I'm pretty sure there's perfect play of Go, too. Finding that will take so much time that I don't need to worry about that. I'm not that sure about chess.

  • Not just brute force (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ToLu the Happy Furby ( 63586 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @01:51AM (#5262591)
    One thing people don't seem to realize is that Deep Junior was a hell of a lot slower than Deep Blue, even though the Deep Blue match was over 5 years ago. That's because Junior was running on "ordinary" commodity hardware (8-way Xeon I think?) while Blue was a collection of hundreds of custom ASICs that do nothing but calculate chess moves. End result: Blue could search and evaluate ~200 million positions per second, while Junior as configured in this match "only" did ~3 million.

    Nonetheless, Junior was almost certainly the better player. For one thing, the terms of the Deep Blue match were heavily tilted against Kasparov: he didn't get a chance to play against Deep Blue or even examine any games Deep Blue played before the match. For another, strategies of "anti-computer" chess are far more developed today than in 1997, when they barely existed (after all, the only way to build a world-class chess playing computer in 1997 was to build a supercomputer out of custom hardware). Third, Kasparov screwed up much more seriously in the 1997 match--one game he accepted a draw when he in fact had a provable win, apparently because he trusted the computer's evaluation of the position, and on several occasions he made terrible blunders.

    Indeed indications are that even the normal Junior program on a decent PC plays the Kasparov-Blue games better than Blue did (except for a couple especially "brilliant" moves on Blue's part).

    Not only is Junior (marginally) the best computer program available today, it is by a good measure the "most human-like". That is, it is still makes its share of "non-human" moves (although far fewer than Deep Blue), and still has no clue how to analyze certain positions, but its evaluation function has a much better understanding of position and is thus more willing to initiate complex piece exchanges than the other major programs. This showed up several times during the match, in two outstanding moves in particular (which netted come-from-behind draws for Junior in games 4 and 5).

    Kasparov, by taking Junior out of its opening book, was able to exit the opening phase with the initiative in every single game. But in every game except for 1 and 6, Junior managed to draw even. In games 2 and 3, it was by virtue of outstanding tactical defense, which should have forced two draws (except that Kasparov screwed up the end of game 3 and lost). In game 5 it was with a shocking bishop sacrifice counterattack (extremely uncomputer-like) which nullified Kasparov's last turn as white (which is an advantage).

    Perhaps game 4 [] is the best synopsis of the state of Junior's play. Kasparov played the opening perfectly according to plan, and ended up in a classic anti-computer position. Normally you can then just wait for the computer to screw up and then rip it apart. But while Junior did make a couple useless non-human moves, for the most part it played extremely well. Kasparov kept waiting to have an opportunity (perhaps too long), until finally Junior broke open the position by initiating an excellent multi-piece exchange. Kasparov had to settle for a draw.

    OTOH, Junior had no idea what was going on in the endgame. Kasparov had a provable draw after move 47, but Junior, having no idea how to evaluate the position (no computer program does), thought it was winning. It played on until move 61 before the embarrassed programmers overruled the program and took the draw.

    Overall, it seems that computers still have a ways to go before they can pass the Grandmaster Turing test. And it seems Kasparov really did just chicken out by accepting the draw in game 6. But the fact remains that Kasparov played quite well (for the most part) and simply couldn't convert his advantage in any game after the first. Meanwhile, while it still made a few computer-like moves that stuck out like sore thumbs, for the most part Junior played very solid chess with occasional strong speculative moves that would be aggressive even for a human.
  • by SomeGuyFromCA ( 197979 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @03:41PM (#5265799) Journal
    Seeing the nth story on /. about computers and chess, I have to post this now:

    Artist: Moxy Früvous
    Album: Live Noise
    Track: Kasparov vs. Deep Blue (Recorded live at MIT)

    (Murray) Well, I... I do have a question. How many people here were voting for Deep Blue? And how many people were voting for Kasparov? Ah.....humanity has hope - still, I suppose.
    (Jian) How many people are like actually disappointed that the human lost. No no, disappointed I mean. Duh! No, Because like I just don't get it, you know? I mean, you know? What's the f*cking big deal, you know? It's a machine, right? I don't know. I made the point in Albany the other day which apparently lost on all the Albanians.
    (Murray) I didn't get it either. [laughter]
    (Dave) That's not all that was lost on the Albanians.
    (Jian) They're still behind the times.
    (Dave) There's a lot of foreign aid going on there.
    (Murray) Your point was if there's a fire, Deep Blue wouldn't run out of the room.
    (Jian) Exactly!
    (Mike) Couldn't run out of the room.
    (Jian) That's exactly my point. If an attractive person walks into the room, a person that would be attractive to Deep Blue, it can't do anything about it. That's my point. Kasparov can approach the person.
    (Murray) The attractive person.
    (Jian) No! Here's my point. My point is a calculator. That's my point. Right?
    (Murray) No, let's get back to the fire.
    (Jian) No, hang on. No, no, the calc...forget the fire, because apparently it's, you know, I'm talking on a different level.
    (Murray) I - Clearly!
    (Jian) Here's the thing. Here's the thing. A calculator, right, a common everyday calculator.
    (Murray) I'm with you.
    (Jian) A calculator will, you know, it...let's say, let's play the adding game, right? Who can add faster: a calculator or a woman or man? A calculator can, right? So what's the big deal? We know that there are instruments... we know that there are machines... we know that there are computers, etcetera.
    (Murray) Right.
    (Jian) that can do things that. It's just because the thing won at chess, right? I don't understand what the big deal is.
    (Murray) Your point is if you light a match near your calculator, it's not going to scurry away. It's all relative.
    (Jian) No, my point is...My point is if there's a calculator. My point is... oh alright, okay, I'll bring it back to the fire for you, because I know you're obsessed. If there's a fire in my living room, where me and my calculator are sitting, I can escape the fire.
    (Dave) Yeah, but if uh...
    (Jian) But my calculator can't.
    (Murray) Is there a logic course here that one of us can enroll in? [audience laughs - this is MIT...
    (Jian) Well, I think, I think they know what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the fact that the machine is programmed to only do one thing. It can't do anything else. The fire was just one example. Pick anything, anything.
    (Mike) Locusts.
    (Murray) A flood. How about a flood? Can he escape a flood?
    (Dave) Buddy boy...
    (Jian, laughing) Kasparov can....
    (Mike) A plague of frogs. [laughter]
    (Jian) No, say there's an, say there's an earthquake. Right.
    (Murray) Now, there's a good one.
    (Jian) There's an earthquake down the middle of the room, the chess room. Kasparov can get up and move. Deep Blue can't.
    (Murray) It falls into the chasm.
    (Jian) That's my point.
    (Murray) Right.
    (Dave) But if they built Deep Blue in a door frame then there's no room for Kasparov to stand... to fight the earthquake. Then they're doubly screwed.
    (Jian) See...see...they'd have to program Deep Blue to escape the fire. That's my thing.
    (Murray) But they can do that in a couple of years.
    (Mike) You know we were talking about... we were talking about disaster movies. This would be the perfect disaster movie. Just have an endless succession of these scenes where Deep Blue is just sitting there. "It's the locusts" or whatever and Kasparov is just running his little piggy legs out of the room. "I'm free again, you f*cker!"

    [sorry if this sucks to read - the lameness filter wouldn't let me post it with a blank line between speakers]

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.