THE WRITING is on the board for human domination of chess after the world champion, Garry Kasparov, was knocked out in the first round of the Intel Grand Prix by Pentium Genius 2, a remarkable piece of software enhanced by a new super- fast processor.
With each player restricted to 25 minutes' thinking time, the computer won the first game with 8 minutes to spare, then drew the second to eliminate Kasparov from the competition. Earlier this year, Kasparov had lost a single 10-minute game to a computer, but yesterday was the first time a world champion had been beaten by a machine at a relatively slow rate of play.
After 20 moves of the opening game, Genius was, according to computer- watchers, looking nervous, its screen flickering anxiously. But 10 moves later it had fought back to near equality and Kasparov's foot was beginning to tremble. By move 36, the computer had regained its usual nerves of silicon, and Kasparov began to shake his head in frustration. By move 40, he was muttering to himself at the way he had frittered away his advantage. In an equal position, he seemed not to know whether to settle for a draw or try to win. The indecision proved fatal.
As Kasparov dithered, the machine took control of the game, increasing the pressure and winning two pawns. At move 56, with a cursory gesture, Kasparov resigned and sped off the stage. The machine remained smugly sitting on its pedestal.
For most of the second game, Kasparov seemed set to score the victory he needed to stay in the competition. But the machine kept flinging difficulties in his way and, after falling into a trap, Kasparov offered a draw, which the machine accepted. The champion was out of the competition. He stayed at the board this time, hitting his head and pulling at his hair. Genius watched impassively.
No checkmate for brain, page 16
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