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November 2006
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Krammed

This morning in the second game of the latest big “Human Champion vs Computer” match current World Chess Champion Vladimir Kramnik did not only lose but was actually checkmated by Fritz. It was a one move blunder. Kramnick made a mistake, then wham, checkmate. That is just plain not supposed to happen to a world champion. Games at this level almost always end with someone resigning, or with an agreed draw. An actual end of the game due to a mate or a by the rules draw is very very rare. So it was kind of cool to see happen. Well… I missed the exact moment because I was on a conference call with Europe, but I saw right before and right after…

Anyway, two games into this match it is dissapointing to me even though the computer is ahead 1.5 to 0.5 at the moment. Cause the first game was a draw, and apperantly some people think Kramnik should have been able to pull out a win. And this second game was again definately a draw, with some people thinking Kramnik should be able to pull out a win… before he made his stupid move.

It has been years now since Deep Blue first scored a point against Kasparov. Now, DB was a custom built computer, whereas the program now competing with world champions can be purchased by anybody and runs on commodity windows machinces. So I guess there has been improvement and all, but I am looking for the point where the world’s best machine can wipe the floor with the world champion the same way that the world champion human could wipe the floor with a five year old who just learned the rules. So far that just isn’t happening.

It is looking more and more like the humans will remain good enough to be able to at least manage a draw if they don’t make big mistakes. That is kind of disappointing. Well, we’ll see how it goes given a few more years.

And there are a few more games left in this match. I have been getting up early to watch them online. Maybe there will be more excitement in the coming games. The actual checkmate and all is cool, but it would have been nicer if the computer had outplayed the human all game long instead of there just being a stupid mistake at the end.

Also… just to repeat a tirade I make every time I watch one of these human/computer matches… traditions and respect for your opponant and all that nonsense aside… a computer in a human computer match should NEVER resign and should NEVER accept a draw. And this game shows exactly why. The human can make a stupid mistake. The computers should accept the human resigning, but otherwise should force the game to go to the bitter end no matter what… either a checkmate or a draw by the rules (Stalemate, Insufficent Material, Threefold Repitition, Fifty Move Rule). Because up until that very last moment, the human could always screw up and let the computer back in the game, even if the computer was losing previously. Computers should NEVER resign and NEVER accept a draw offer. Period.