BBC's Across the Board: Murray Campbell

by Albert Silver
10/29/2014 – In this second episode, Dominic Lawson interviewed Murray Campbell over the internet as the latter was playing from New York. For those who do not know, Murray Campbell was one of the key figures behind Deep Blue, the computer that famously beat Garry Kasparov in 1997. Campbell discusses artificial intelligence, Kasparov's cheating accusations and solving chess.

ChessBase 14 Download ChessBase 14 Download

Everyone uses ChessBase, from the World Champion to the amateur next door. Start your personal success story with ChessBase 14 and enjoy your chess even more!

Along with the ChessBase 14 program you can access the Live Database of 8 million games, and receive three months of free ChesssBase Account Premium membership and all of our online apps! Have a look today!


As a reminder to the readers and listeners, the format of the show is this: On the radio they play a quick rapid game during which Lawson interviews his guest on both chess and other matters. In the first season only one of the personalities was actually a chess player, Hou Yifan, while the others were all noted figures in their fields and all are chess aficionados. The shows are edited, and also bring in GM Daniel King to the commentary booth as he provides a little insight on the flow of the game and his feel for the position.

Murray Campbell
October 28 - 12:04 PM
Murray Campbell was the brains behind the chess computer Deep Blue, which made headlines around the world after it defeated Garry Kasparov.

Murray Campbell is one of the giants behind computer chess at the highest level, having made contributions to HiTech, Deep Thought and of course both iterations of Deep Blue. He shared the $100,000 Fredkin Prize with Feng-hsiung Hsu and A. Joseph Hoane Jr. in 1997, a prize that was to be awarded for developing the first computer to defeat a reigning world chess champion in a match.

Dominic Lawson vs Murray Campbell

[Event "BBC Radio 4 - Across the Board"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.10.28"] [Round "?"] [White "Lawson, Dominic"] [Black "Campbell, Murray"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C01"] [PlyCount "42"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 exd5 4. c4 Bb4+ 5. Nc3 Ne7 6. Bd3 dxc4 7. Bxc4 O-O 8. Nge2 Nbc6 9. O-O Bg4 10. Be3 Qd7 11. f3 Bf5 12. Ne4 Nd5 13. Bf2 Be7 14. N2g3 Bg6 15. Rc1 a6 16. Nc5 Bxc5 17. dxc5 Rad8 18. Re1 Nf4 19. Qxd7 Rxd7 20. Rcd1 Rxd1 21. Rxd1 Re8 1/2-1/2

A couple of sample questions

Dominic Lawson - After the match, he (Kasparov) accused your team of cheating, by giving suggestions to your program during the match. What did you think of that?

Murray Campbell - We were surprised that he would make such a claim. I don't want to put words in his mouth, but I think if you asked him today 'Can computers play the kinds of sophisticated moves that he thought were not possible in 1997?' I think that he would agree computers are in fact capable of playing these kinds of moves.

A picture of the same computer as Deep Blue, taken at the Computer
History Museum (source Wikipedia)

And you don't see, do you, in your lifetime computers actually solving chess? That is maybe to find the perfect moves from start to finish, in a sense making the whole thing of mere academic interest thereafter.

I think solving chess while theoretically possible, so for example the game of checkers has been solved completely, chess is vastly more complex than checkers and I don't see an obvious way to do that. Even with improving technology, I don't see that happening. Certain small parts of the game can be solved exactly with just a few pieces on the board, but the game of chess being solved, I don't see how that's going to happen. It would require some major breakthroughs in computing technology in order to do that.

The shows can be listened to live, or later at the website

To listen to the full broadcast, visit the BBC Radio 4 website where all episodes are archived.

Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
Discussion and Feedback Join the public discussion or submit your feedback to the editors


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register

htd2013 htd2013 10/31/2014 12:36
Yes, I agree with Tenant's comment. If IBM team was confident about Deeper Blue's strength in 1997, it should have demonstrated the same to public, which it never did. With that it's share values would have shooted to 30% (not Only 15%, as mentioned).
DELTAMAX2020 DELTAMAX2020 10/31/2014 12:14
1997 Deep Blue match was a setup as Topalov said.
The_Tenant The_Tenant 10/31/2014 06:31
"I think if you asked [Kasparov] today 'Can computers play the kinds of sophisticated moves that he thought were not possible in 1997?' I think that he would agree computers are in fact capable of playing these kinds of moves."

Indeed they are. But whether or not Deep Blue was capable of playing those controversial/"sophisticated" moves in '97, that's a whole other question entirely. Fact is, it was never validated because IBM had the machine dismantled and never gave a demonstration to prove that DB could in fact find and play the moves it supposedly found on its own. Hence there's still a big question mark that remains unanswered.

and (Game Over: Kasparov vs Deep Blue doco)
hpaul hpaul 10/30/2014 06:43
Not exactly "bull," Kevin. "They" did much more than prove that checkers is a draw; they determined for every reasonable legal position whether it was a win or a draw, and identified the best moves. For practical purposes, the game is solved, though - as I understand it - they didn't spend computer time on trivial, mirror-image, or overwhelming positions. The game is no longer of interest to computer scientists, and there will never be another computer vs computer checkers game - that would be pointless.
By the way, the number of calculations done by Schaeffer's computers was not 1014, but 10 to the 14th, or 100 trillion.
KevinC KevinC 10/29/2014 11:01
The claim that checkers is solved is bull. All they really did is prove that the result is a draw. To "solve" chess, you need to develop a tablebase that works from the first move of the game.
They admit that while checkers is 5x10 to the 20th, they have only done this: "The number of calculations involved was 1014, which were done over a period of 18 years."