In his 12-year reign as world chess champion, Garry Kasparov has earned a reputation for both brilliance and aggressiveness. He is widely considered the greatest player in history. But on Sunday afternoon, after resigning the sixth and deciding game of his match with the IBM supercomputer known as Deep Blue, Kasparov sat slumped and glassy-eyed as he awaited questions in a midtown Manhattan ballroom. "He looks like a DMV photo," cracked international master Mike Valvo.
Kasparov's capitulation shocked everyone, coming just one hour into a game that he needed to draw in order to tie the match. Things had gone much differently 15 months ago, when Kasparov defeated an earlier version of Deep Blue 4-2 in Philadelphia. But since then IBM's computer scientists had enlisted the help of four grandmasters, and this latest teaming of technology and human intelligence threw Kasparov some curves. In Game 5, for example, no one anticipated that with one of Kasparov's pawns poised to reach the last file and become a queen, Deep Blue would simply ignore it and launch an attack with its own king. That stunning shift of focus set up a perpetual check and forced Kasparov to offer a draw.
"The computer will be unbeatable in five or 10 years," says Frederick Friedel, an expert on artificial intelligence and computer chess who served as one of Kasparov's seconds. "Garry will understand much more about chess, but he will still lose because he will make mistakes."
Kasparov, for one, was not ready to concede supremacy. At the postmatch press conference he came back to fiery life, arguing that his biggest mistake had been to accept the IBM team's conditions, which included playing on consecutive days and being denied access to Deep Blue's log, a record of its evaluations of moves. "It's very important that Deep Blue enter competitive chess and go through the scrutiny other players go through," he said. "Then, I assure you, I will tear it to pieces."