Questions, questions

9/23/2002 – How will he fare against Deep Junior in the match scheduled for December this year? What is at stake and how will he proceed strategically? Why doesn't the US have exceptional chess talents and why are there so few top women players? These are some of the questions answered by Garry Kasparov in an interview that appeared in the New York Times today. We bring you excerpts here.

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To read the article you will need to register, free of charge, to the NYT web service. We bring you a summary of the key points Kasparov made.

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By W.M. Ferguson

On his first match against a computer since he lost to IBM's Deep Blue in 1997: – Hopefully I will play better. The chess knowledge of Deep Blue was quite primitive. Today we're facing computers that have accumulated immense knowledge of the game of chess. To some extent, you may say that Deep Junior is a Kasparov in computer chess. Very, very aggressive.

How will the highest-rated chess player in history attack the reigning champion of computer chess? – I will try to create positions that will be most unpleasant for the machine. I probably do better than most of my opponents in tactical combinations, but I'm not mad to go into these kinds of positions with a computer. To start calculating -- it would not be a very wise idea. When the computer sees forced lines, it plays like God.

Is this revenge for his loss to Deep Blue? – IBM. stole the scientific flavor of the match. Not only from me, but from the whole world. It was considered a scientific experiment, and IBM treated it as win or lose. It was a corporate mockery. Of course I asked for a rematch. But I insisted that the match be played under different conditions, with the machine being supervised as a human player is supervised. If you break a world record, you go for a drug test. Now when I play Deep Junior, we worked out all the rules that I feel should be generic rules for all the future matches.

What's at stake? – It's not the final battle, I treat it more like a continuation of a very important scientific experiment. Where else can we compete with computers? In the future it will not be just who is going to win the match. It will be whether we can win one single game. I'm quite serious. The experiment goes on as long as we are winning one single game.

Why hasn't the United States had a native-born player of the stature of Bobby Fischer? – It's about the numbers. If you have one million kids going into chess clubs, as it was in the Soviet Union, eventually you come up with great talents. If you have maybe 50,000 kids, you're lucky to have one Bobby Fischer in a quarter of a century.

On women chess players – The situation is dramatically improving. Remember, 40 years ago, Fischer was proudly saying, ''I could give an extra knight for any female player.'' Now I wonder whether I could be so prudent to give a pawn. The gap is closing. It's still a long way to go. I don't think it will be equal, but it'll be close.

Source: New York Times magazine, 22.09.2002


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