Chess

A curious incident happened to enliven Garry Kasparov's simultaneous display in aid of the Fragile X Society at the Cobden Club on Saturday. He was playing 25 boards, most of whom were teams of four consulting over their moves. In two of the games, however, he faced unseen opponents over the Internet, and it was one of these games that led to the little incident.

After just over an hour's play, a small commotion broke out as Kasparov showed signs of irritation when he reached the board. After a brief argument, the champion refused to continue play in that game because he suspected that whoever was entering the moves at the other end was using a computer.

After his defeat by Deep Blue earlier this year, and particularly since the IBM super-computer refused his challenge to a rematch, Kasparov has been very sensitive about playing against machines, and certainly did not like the idea that one had been surreptitiously sneaked into this competition.

So for the rest of the display, he completely ignored that board and went on to score 21 wins, three draws and no losses on the other games.

Kasparov had no such suspicions with the other Internet team - he knew from the start that they were playing too poorly to be using a computer. A later analysis of the moves in the incomplete game appeared to confirm his suspicions. A leading software program was found to choose the same moves as had been played by Kasparov's opponent.

When a man has lost to a machine, he learns to spot them a mile off.

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