Draughts champion in computer deadlock

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MAN and machine ended even after the first two games of the Silicon Graphics World draughts championship match at the Park Lane Hotel in Piccadilly, central London, where Dr Marion Tinsley, champion since 1955, is being challenged by a computer program called Chinook, writes William Hartston.

Dr Tinsley, 65, appeared to a have a strong position early in the first game but was frustrated by a string of precise moves by the machine. After 20 moves on each side, Chinook's operators confided that their machine had already analysed the position to a certain draw. Dr Tinsley continued probing until move 52 when, after five hours' play, he finally agreed to share the point.

The second game was only half as long but much more exciting, a flurry of moves at the end leading to mass exchanges and another draw. Despite Chinook's ability to analyse 3 million positions a minute and to play perfectly any position with seven men or fewer remaining on the board, even the computer experts are generally predicting that Dr Tinsley will retain his title.