I regret to announce that the wars between humans and computers have pretty much been won – by computers. Michael Adams, a very talented young Englishman and number 7 in the world played a nasty contraption called Hydra in a six game chess match. Result. Five wins – all to the computer – and one draw. You can play the games through here. The computer weaves it’s web around Adams almost as efficiently as computers do with me on the net – at www.chessclub.com. Here’s an interview with Adams.
On the slightly brighter side the breakthrough for the computers was not (so much) increasing their computing power. Its not all been done by crunching billions of positions. Of course the computers do this, and they’re doing it faster and faster, but there are still plenty of positions they don’t examine just a few moves out from the position they’re presented with over the board. If that was all they were doing, we’d still be beating them easily. Maybe even I could beat them.
The breakthrough in chess computing has come from new programs that enable computers to recognise patterns – just like us! Still, it was amazing how long the humans kept up the fight.
On a lighter note, here’s Einstein having a bit of fun with Robert Oppenheim I presume one fine lunchtime while trying to build the bomb.