Okay, so we lost. But what is the human race to do now that its champion has been beaten by Deep Blue? There are two options: lick our wounds and plot revenge, or we could all go away and play something else.

The first option is tempting. Let's beat up this hunk of metal before it gets too good. There are already grandmasters who have made a speciality of beating machines and they would not make the mistakes Kasparov did when facing Deep Blue. But even if we conquer the machine next time, what about the time after that? It's getting faster and more sophisticated all the time. We are bound to lose in the long run.

So must we switch to Shogi or Go, those oriental board games which have so far remained impervious to the onslaught of silicon? There is another alternative, well summed up in the old proverb: "If you can't beat them, change the rules."

One of the reasons that Kasparov was left struggling against Deep Blue was his ill-conceived attempt to get it out of its opening book. He clearly feared that it had been left for months plugged into the Najdorf Sicilian and concocted some fiendish new traps. If that's what he's worried about, Kasparov should challenge Deep Blue to a Fischerandom contest. Shuffle the pieces along the back rank acording to Bobby Fischer's rules (bishops on opposite coloured squares, one rook on each side of the king, otherwise random) and throw both players on their own resources. The only trouble is that Deep Blue might play even better that way.

Here is a sample of the sort of chess Fischerandom can lead to. It was played in 1995 in a small chess festival near Heidelberg and shows Karpov quickly getting into his normal positional stride, despite the curious opening position (see diagram).

White: Joerg Schwalfenberg

Black: Anatoly Karpov

1 c4 c6 15 g3 Kf7

2 d4 d5 16 Ke2 h5

3 cxd5 cxd5 17 Rbc1 Rxc1

4 Qxc8 Rxc8 18 Rxc1 b6

5 Nb3 Nd7 19 Be4 h4

6 e4 f6 20 f4 hxg3

7 Ne3 Nab6 21 hxg3 Rh2+

8 f3 Bd6 22 Kd3 Rh3

9 Bd3 g6 23 Rg1 Nxf4+

10 Bf2 Nc4 24 Kc2 Ne2

11 Rb1 Ndb6 25 Rg2 Nxg3

12 exd5 Nxe3 26 Bd3 Bd5

13 Bxe3 Nxd5 White resigns

14 Bd2 Be6