Kasparov puts clear blue water between man and machine

It is 6ft 5ins tall, weighs 1.4 tons and calculates 200 million chess moves every second, but Deeper Blue, the IBM computer still appears, on the evidence of Saturday's opening game of their match in New York, to be no match for Garry Kasparov.

Last year its predecessor, Deep Blue, created a sensation by winning one game against Kasparov. It was the first time a world chess champion had been beaten by a machine at normal rates of play. Nevertheless, Kasparov won the match by a final score of 4-2.

Since then, the technicians at IBM have been putting in considerable efforts to strengthen the play of their machine. Hardware improvements have doubled its processing speed.

Saturday's game, however, showed that computers still have a good deal to learn. Kasparov, playing white and pictured above on monitors before an audience watching on lcosed circuit TV, began cautiously, refusing to make the same mistake as in the opening game last year when he was punished for taking too many risks. This time it was the machine that was tempted into over-aggression. At the 13th move it advanced a pawn to force Kasparov's knight to retreat but weakened its own position.

Beating off the threat, Kasparov gradually took control of the game and forced the machine to resign at move 45. By creating wild complications from a dull looking position Deeper Blue showed it will be a very dangerous opponent in the five remaining games, but its poor judgement on occasions has made Kasparov a clear favourite to pocket the $700,000 (pounds 325,000) winner's purse.

Photograph: Reuters

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