Checkmate: Artificial Intelligence’s Game Playing Challenge

How Computer Chess Changed the World?…


It’s been a while since I enrolled myself for Udacity’s Nanodegree on Artificial Intelligence (which I truly rate above all the online learning experiences I have had). Amidst studying about ‘game playing agents’ during the coursework, one of the assignments was to summarize a research paper, for which I read about one of the most seminal breakthroughs in the history of Artificial Intelligence, Deep Blue.

Deep Blue was a chess-playing computer developed by IBM. It is known for being the first computing machine to have won a chess match against a reigning world champion under regular time controls.

When IBM’s Deep Blue beat chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov in 1997 in a six game chess match, Kasparov came to believe that he was facing a machine that could experience human intuition.

“The machine refused to move to a position that had a decisive short-term advantage… It was showing a very human sense of danger.” – Garry Kasparov

To Kasparov, Deep Blue looked as if to be experiencing the game rather than just crunching the numbers. Might Kasparov have actually detected a hint of analogical thinking in Deep Blue’s play and mistaken it for human intervention?

“Chess is beautiful enough to waste your life for” – Hans Rees, Dutch Grandmaster.

The oft-quoted adage of Hans Rees most succinctly describes the human obsession with the ancient game of kings. For centuries, the act of playing chess has been upheld as the very paragon of intellectual activity. It is the game’s reputation as both a strategically deep system and as a thinking man’s activity that originally made the idea of mechanized chess player and intriguing notion. For much of modern history, chess playing was seen as a “litmus test” of the ability for computers to act intelligently.