The Deep Blue Ocean

Meet Deep Blue, it was a chess playing computer made by IBM.

In the May of 1997 it did the unthinkable. It defeated the Russian Chess Grand-master Gary Kasparov in the game of Chess. Kasparov was reigning Chess Champion and it was the first time a computer was able to defeat a chess champion in an international chess competition conditions.

While the victory was somewhat controversial, it was a huge win for a machine to out think a man. To understand how big it was, let me add some numbers here.

There are 64 positions and 16 pieces, and between them, there are 288+ Billion( add ref below) total possible move combinations and the Computer had to out think all to beat the greatest chess player of the time.

It wasn’t the first time the two had met, this in reality was a rematch of a battle which Kasparov had the year before by a score of 4-2. However, the Deep Blue had 3 Jacks up its sleeve this time:

  1. New Deep Blue was way faster
  2. Knew the style of Kasparov
  3.  Unlike Kasparov, could and did change its entire strategy and game-play.

The stakes were high for both the parties. While Kasparov had to protect his legacy, for IBM it meant unlimited ad(news)vertisement for its tech prowess and huge bump in share value. The match was widely publicized and left most people who had no interest in either computers or chess waiting to hear who won.

There were 6 games to be played to crown the champion and What happened next was a sad reality that some lines written in a language called “C” could beat the intellect of arguably one of the smartest men on planet.

IBM’s share price doubled in price from $25 in Jan 1996 to $50 in Aug 1997 and complete dominance in Artificial Intelligence area.

Kasparov, complained of cheating on IBM’s behalf which was denied by IBM. His calls for rematch were rejected by IBM. Kasparov continued to be Chess World Champion for next 3 years. A title his own student “Vladimir Kramnik” took from him.

This in a way was the perfect setting for the dawn of the “Age of Intelligent Computers” which would one day take over the mankind.

**This blog borrows heavily from various sources including:

  1. http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-30290540
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_Blue_(chess_computer)
  3. https://www.research.ibm.com/deepblue/home/may11/story_3.html
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