Deep Blue defeats Garry Kasparov in chess match - HISTORY
Year
1997

Deep Blue defeats Garry Kasparov in chess match

On May 11, 1997, chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov resigns after 19 moves in a game against Deep Blue, a chess-playing computer developed by scientists at IBM. This was the sixth and final game of their match, which Kasparov lost two games to one, with three draws.

Kasparov, a chess prodigy from Azerbaijan, was a skillful chess player from childhood. At 21, Kasparov played Anatoly Karpov for the world title, but the 49-game match ended indecisively. The next year, Kasparov beat Karpov to become the youngest world champion in history. With a FIDE (Federation International des Echecs) score of 2800, and a streak of 12 world chess titles in a row, Kasparov was considered the greatest chess player in history going into his match with Deep Blue.

Chess-playing computers had existed since the 1950s, but they initially saw little success against accomplished human players. That changed in 1985, when Carnegie Mellon doctoral student Feng-hsing Hsu developed a chess-playing computer named “Chiptest” that was designed to play chess at a higher level than its predecessors. Hsu and a classmate went to work for IBM, and in 1989 they were part of a team led by developer C.J. Tan that was charged with creating a computer capable of competing against the best chess players in the world. The resulting supercomputer, dubbed Deep Blue, could calculate many as 100 billion to 200 billion moves in the three minutes traditionally allotted to a player per move in standard chess.

Kasparov first played Deep Blue in 1996. The grandmaster was known for his unpredictable play, and he was able to defeat the computer by switching strategies mid-game. In 1997, Kasparov abandoned his swashbuckling style, taking more of a wait-and-see approach; this played in the computer’s favor and is commonly pointed to as the reason for his defeat.

The last game of the 1997 Kasparov v. Deep Blue match lasted only an hour. Deep Blue traded its bishop and rook for Kasparov’s queen, after sacrificing a knight to gain position on the board. The position left Kasparov defensive, but not helpless, and though he still had a playable position, Kasparov resigned–the first time in his career that he had conceded defeat. Grandmaster John Fedorowicz later gave voice to the chess community’s shock at Kasparov’s loss: “Everybody was surprised that he resigned because it didn’t seem lost. We’ve all played this position before. It’s a known position.” Kasparov said of his decision, “I lost my fighting spirit.”

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Minnesota enters the Union

Minnesota enters the Union as the 32nd state on May 11, 1858.Known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” Minnesota is the northern terminus of the Mississippi River’s traffic and the westernmost point of the inland waterway that extends through the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence ...read more

Deep Blue beats Kasparov

IBM’s supercomputer Deep Blue makes chess history by defeating Garry Kasparov, the chess champion widely regarded as the greatest who has ever lived. The Russian master conceded defeat after 19 moves in the sixth game of the tournament, losing the match 2.5 to 3.5. It was the ...read more

Butcher of Lyon on trial

Klaus Barbie, the former Nazi Gestapo chief of German-occupied Lyon, France, goes on trial in Lyon more than four decades after the end of World War II. He was charged with 177 crimes against humanity.As chief of Nazi Germany’s secret police in Lyon, Barbie sent 7,500 French Jews ...read more

British prime minister assassinated

In London, Spencer Perceval, prime minister of Britain since 1809, is shot to death by demented businessman John Bellingham in the lobby of the House of Commons. Bellingham, who was inflamed by his failure to obtain government compensation for war debts incurred in Russia, gave ...read more

Hamburger Hill Assaulted by U.S. Troops

Hamburger Hill was the scene of an intense and controversial battle during the Vietnam War. Known to military planners as Hill 937 (a reference to its height in meters), the solitary peak is located in the dense jungles of the A Shau Valley of Vietnam, about a mile from the ...read more

Western writer Mari Sandoz is born

Mari Sandoz, the author of several histories that demonstrated sympathy for Indians that was unusual for the time, is born in Sheridan County, Nebraska.Sandoz had a difficult childhood on a Nebraska homestead. Her father, Jules, was a bitter, tyrannical man, who took out the ...read more

Bob Marley dies

In what would prove to be the next to the last concert of his tragically short life, Bob Marley shared the bill at Madison Square Garden with the hugely popular American funk band The Commodores. With no costumes, no choreography and no set design to speak of, “The reggae star ...read more

George Clooney makes return appearance on ER

On this day in 2000, in a sixth season episode of the NBC television drama ER entitled “Such Sweet Sorrow,” Nurse Carol Hathaway (Julianna Margulies) watches one of her patients, a woman dying from cancer, bid goodbye to her family. Realizing that life is too short to not take ...read more

Fire kills 50 at soccer stadium

Fifty people die in a fire in the grandstand at a soccer stadium in Bradford, England, on this day in 1985. The wooden roof that burned was scheduled to be replaced by a steel roof later that same week. Bradford was playing Lincoln City on the afternoon of May 11. Many fans ...read more

The Queen of Poisoners takes her toll

The body of Leon Besnard is exhumed in Loudun, France, by authorities searching for evidence of poison. For years, local residents had been suspicious of his wife Marie, as they watched nearly her entire family die untimely and mysterious deaths. Law enforcement officials finally ...read more

Kim Philby dies

Kim Philby, a former British Secret Intelligence Service officer and double agent for the Soviet Union, dies in Moscow at the age of 76. Philby was perhaps the most famous of a group of British government officials who served as Russian spies from the 1930s to the 1950s.Philby ...read more