Garry Kasparov launches – a new search engine

3/24/2006 – For the initial launch it was former US President Bill Clinton who took center stage. This time Accoona, a search engine company that has set itself the goal to challenge the supremacy of Google, asked former world chess champion Garry Kasparov to do the honours. Kasparov introduced what he called this new hitchhiker's guide to cyberspace.

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Accoona Launch in New York

The first launch came in December 2004, with ex President Bill Clinton giving the keynote speech. Since then the US-Chinese developed search engine Accoona has been enhanced and improved, enough to warrant a second formal launch. This time it was Garry Kasparov, who spoke at the press event hosted by Accoona at the United Nations in New York.

In his speech Kasparov called the new search engine technology a modern-day "hitchhiker's guide to cyberspace" and likened Accoona's flexible AI approach to Willi Wonka's magic elevator that defies the laws of space and time. Kasparov was especially impressed by the results retrieved by the Accoona searches he tried, the way the technology understood what the user implicitly wanted to see, and how you can refine the search after an unmanagable amount of information has been presented to you.

This is especially relevant in the Accoona News function, which provides users with a set of eight drop-down buttons that enables one to narrow down the results. You can

  • prioritize specific words in their original search phrase;
  • refine by time period, from within the previous hour to more than 30 days ago;
  • select specific media outlets from a database of thousands of news organizations;
  • find related companies (in a dropdown list) by accessing Accoona's proprietary database, totaling more than 60 million companies, including Dun & Bradstreet data with full information on each company;
  • refine the results by selecting media outlets from a specified country or state;
  • refine the results by cross-referencing to a list of people who are mentioned in searched articles.
  • narrow the search to a specific type of media, including text, audio, video, picture and graphic.

These are the new features, which we are told will soon be extended to the general web search, not just the news. The original Accoona inspiration, to do an AI search by understanding the meaning of the search expressions, is still there, of course. We will come back to that in a moment.

Playing with Accoona

The Accoona News search with its SuperTargeting is genuinely useful – and quite addictive. You can spend hours searching for topics in the news, and then pairing them down to items that are of direct interest to you. We tried it by searching for "kasparov" in the news, and then refining the 126 results delivered to the last seven days and relevant to Germany. Here are the results.

The above list presents seven results relevant to Germany. ChessBase.com is prominent in the list because the news service comes out of Germany. If you select "United States" you get 15 results, as shown below:

One entry catches your eye: 3 lives lost, 2 broken is an article in the Detroit Free Press that has nothing to do with chess or Kasparov (in fact both words do not occur in the text). But it does contain the name of a victim in a traffic accident: "Gary Weinstein". The Artificial Intelligence in the Accoona search engine apparently knows that Kasparov's original name was Gary Weinstein and has retrieved (here inappropriately) a story with this name. Very impressive.

How it works

Bob Tedeschi ran a large story on Accoona in the New York Times and mentions this aspect of the search. "Accoona says its search engine is different from others on the market. When users type "Oscar winners" into the search box, for instance, Accoona delivers stories about Academy Award winners, whether or not the stories mention the word Oscar. Google didn't return e-mail messages seeking comment on Accoona, and Yahoo said that without knowing specifics of the technology, it would be difficult to comment."

We were present at the early development stages of Accoona, which is the brainchild of Armand Rousso, the organiser of a number of chess mega-events (e.g. Kasparov vs Deep Junior, Kasparov vs X3D Fritz). Armand provided us with all the details of the AI search in his chess engines – Google and Yahoo please take note.

Accoona's AI search takes into account the following figures and mechanisms:

  • Acronyms: An abbreviation formed from the initial letters of a series of words: e.g. NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration).
  • Autoantonyms: A word that can take two (or more) opposite meanings: e.g. fast means “moving quickly” or “fixed firmly in place”, overlook means “to watch over carefully” or “to fail to notice”.
  • Eponyms: A name from which another name or word is derived: e.g Romulus giving rise to Rome, the word sandwich coming from Earl of Sandwich.
  • Hypernyms: A word that has a more general meaning than another; e.g. in the relationship between chair and furniture, furniture is a hypernym; In the relationship between horse and animal, animal is a hypernym.
  • Hyponyms: A word that has a more specific meaning than another; e.g. in the relationship between chair and furniture, chair is a hyponym; in the relationship between horse and animal, horse is a hyponym.
  • Meronym: A word that refers to a part of what another word refers to; e.g. in the relationship between leg and ankle, ankle is a meronym; in the relationship between brim and hat, brim is a meronym. A meronym is also s term midway between two opposites; e.g. flat between convex and concave, present between past and future.
  • Pseudonyms: An assumed name, especially by an author; e.g. Eric Arthur Blair wrote the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four under the pseudonym George Orwell.
  • Retronyms: An adjective-noun pairing generated by a change in the meaning of the base noun, usually as a result of technological advance; e.g. watch became pocket watch due to the introduction of the wrist watch, pen became fountain pen due to the introduction of the ballpoint pen. [Actually they were called fountain pens to distinguish them from the dip pens that had been in use up until that point].
  • Synonyms: One of two (or more) words that have the same (or very similar) meaning; e.g. big and large, error and mistake, run and sprint.
  • Toponyms: Place names; e.g. London, Mount Everest; or a word derived from a place name; e.g. champagne in France, cashmere from Kashmir in India.

The search engine has a giant database of synonyms, acronyms, pseudonyms, etc. and makes use of these in the search. If you combine "NY" with "car" it will find automobiles in New York, even if NY and car are not present in the retrieved text.

Accoona’s success is not just based on advanced search technologies, but also in the company's strong relationships inside China, which is projected to be the world’s largest online market before 2007. Accoona has an exclusive agreement with the China Daily Information Corp. to be the preferred search engine portal across China for the next 20 years. Accoona has exclusive licensing agreements with Sina, China’s leading online publisher, and Sohu, the country’s leading news service.

Through its relationship with China Daily, the largest English-language website in China and the official English-language voice of the Chinese government, Accoona expects to attract more than ten million users daily to its Chinese search engine.

Picture Gallery


Group photo with John Li, Accoona.cn Product Manager, Garry Kasparov, GM Ron Henley, Accoona Director, Daniel Kraft, General Manager of E-Commerce, Bill Rose, Accoona Chief Financial Officer.


Playing with the new search engine: Kasparov with Accoona Eckhard Pfeiffer, Accoona chairman and former president and CEO of Compaq Computer Corp.


Paul Hoffman, journalist and author from Woodstock (the original one), introduces the new Accoona search technology to the audience in the United Nations building. You can watch part of his presentation in the following streaming video. Very interesting to watch!


Paul showing Garry Kasparov and Ekhard Pfeiffer how he, as a journalist,
works with the News search in Accoona


And bingo! there is exactly what you are looking for.


Garry Kasparov and Eckhard Pfeiffer at the launch.

Eckhard Pfeiffer, Accoona Chairman of the Board, has been a key contributor to the growth of the personal computer business and the evolution of information technology on a worldwide scale. His vision, along with his willingness to take risks and to set ambitious goals, has made him one of the most respected leaders in the global information technology industry. Pfeiffer was president and CEO of Compaq Computer Corp. from 1991 to 1999. During that time he led the company through a highly successful turnaround and revitalization, labeled “a classic case of corporate comeback” by Fortune magazine. Before Compaq, Pfeiffer spent 19 years with Texas Instruments in various key management positions. Pfeiffer is a member of the Board of Directors of General Motors Corporation, LM Ericsson AB, IFCO Systems, N.V., and serves on the Advisory Board of Deutsche Bank.

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