Even a billion moves a second... ...is not enough to beat a human

Click to follow
The pinnacle of man's technological endeavour is still no match for the human brain. At least not for the brain of Garry Kasparov, who defeated Deep Blue - the 256-processor, IBM super-computer - by four games to two, in a $500,000 challenge match.

After a difficult start to the contest in Philadelphia, Kasparov seemed suddenly to crack the problem of finding a style of chess guaranteed to bamboozle this awesome machine. In the first game of the match, Deep Blue had shown that it was capable of out- calculating the strongest human player.

Perhaps it just took him by surprise. But then Kasparov displayed a tactical flair far beyond anything mere microchips can muster, eventually levelling the match to two-all and then taking the fifth, after Deep Blue's determined programmers rejected a draw.

The final game was an even more striking display of human intelligence. An ill-advised excursion by Deep Blue in the opening resulted in a loss of precious time.

Unable to break out of a passive position, it simply moved its pieces sideways and backwards while Kasparov's forces edged inexorably forwards. And forwards.

After the stunning opening win - the first time a computer had beaten a world champion in serious play - Deep Blue's programmers must now go back to the drawing board.

Deep Blue seizure, Section Two, page 22