Man versus machine

Man versus machine

From the early computer age humans tried to develop a chess program that could play a game of chess with humans. Due to low resources of computers at that time chess programs were not so strong and couldn't stand a chance with serious player. That's why the goal for first chess programs was to beat a novice. Exactly that happened in Los Alamos in 1956.

Computer defeated novice human

One of the first documented games where computer won against human in a chess-like game happened in Los Alamos in 1956 on computer Univac MANIAC IThe team that programmed MANIAC was led by Stan Ulam. Due to complexity of chess, and number of possible positions chess program was made for simplified version of chess. It used 6x6 sized board and chess set without bishops. It took 12 minutes to search 4 moves deep. In the game computer defeated a novice in 23 moves. You can see the game in the bottom of post, but due to special rules last 3 moves can not be displayed on the board. 

Although Univac MANIAC won against human it didn't happened with the real chess rules, so the real victory happend 2 years later in 1958 when chess program NSS which was running on IBM 704 computer beat a human player who was a secretary and learned to play chess just one hour before the game.

Predictions and expectations

After first computer victories there were some predictions about future of computer chess. In 1957 Herbert Simon said that within 10 years, a digital computer would be the world's chess champion. In 1963 world chess champion Botvinnik predicted that a Russian chess playing program would eventually defeat the World Champion.

Victories against rated players

In the spring of 1967, MacHACK VI became the first program to beat a rated human (1510 USCF rating), at the Massachussets State Championship. By the end of the year, it had played in four chess tournaments. It won 3 games, lost 12, and drew 3. In 1967 MacHACK VI was made an honorary member of the US Chess Federation. MAC HACK VI is written at MIT in assembly language (MIDAS) by Richard Greenblatt. Next step was to beat a master which happened in 1978. 

Levy's bet

In 1968 International Master David Levy made a £500 bet that no chess computer would beat him in 10 years. The original bet was with John McCarthy, a distinguished researcher in Artificial Intelligence at Stanford. The bet was made at the 1968 Machine Intelligence Workshop in Edinburgh University. The bet was later more then doubled because other people joined in wager. Levy played 3 matches in the next decade until the conclusion of the bet, and won all of them. In the 1978 David Levy played the last match, It was six game match against Chess 4.7 program. David Levy won the match 3.5 vs 1.5 and he won the bet (there was no need to play 6th game because of an unattainable advantage). But in game four David Levy lost and that was the first time that computer defeated a human master.

The 80's

In the 1980's chess computers often defeated master level humans. Chess computer Belle was the first machine to achieve master level play and it happened in 1983.

In the end of 80's computers improved so match that the next goal was to go for a world champion. In fact first match against world champion happened on October 22th 1989 at New York Academy of Art where Deep Thought played against world champion GM Garry Kasparov. Kasparov won both games quite easily, but it was only matter of time when will computers became better than humans. In the same year Deep Thought convincingly defeated IM David Levy in 4 games match with result 4-0. 

Deep Blue vs. Kasparov

In the 1996 Garry Kasparov played first match against IBM's computer Deep Blue in Philadelphia. Deep Blue won in first game and that was the first time chess computer beat a reigning chess Champion. Kasparov rebounded over the next five games, winning three and drawing two, to soundly beat the machine in the 1996 match.

Only one year later in 1997 there was a rematch in New York city where Deep Blue defeated Kasparov in a match of 6 games with result of 3.5 - 2.5 . After match there were some accusations from Kasparov side that IBM cheated. Kasparov demanded a rematch but IBM declined and retired Deep Blue.

Deep Blue's win was turning point in computer vs human matches and it showed that computers could compete with human Intelligence. After that computers and chess programs improved a lot so today's best chess programs can easily beat best human chess players.