This is a copy of a letter I wrote which was published in the Letters to the Editor column in the October 1997 Issue of Chess Life:



In the July issue of Chess Life Gordon W. Gribble writes: "I challenge the IBM team to a Deep Blue match with any Grandmaster, provided that Deep Blue is stripped of its opening book...".  If this were done the human should then too have to be stripped of its "opening book", something which, of course, you simply can't do. 

Paul Axel-Lute writes: "Seems to me that until the machine makes those kinds of decisions itself, (accepting and rejecting draw offers) it's not really playing the whole game."  I agree with this.  It doesn't seem to me that this would be too hard implement, both for future match arbiters as well as for the programmers of the Deep Blue team.

J. S. Chamberlain writes: "The defeat of Garry Kasparov in the recent match against Deep Blue was a sad day for humankind."  This I strongly disagree with! Since man created the machine in the first place, I think that it was a wonderful day for humankind!

Anthony A. Basilicato's point about computer vs. human chess matches not being completely fair is valid.  But note that we wouldn't have a contest at all if the computer couldn't use an "external chess set" to analyze on!  A computer program is always going to require this.  I'm sure the Laws of Chess were not designed with computers in mind.  Therefore, such a contest must always be taken with a little grain of salt.

John Bossy writes: "Yes I am glad that he (Kasparov) was still fighting. This is what makes him a champion."  But by Garry's own admission, after Game 5 he wasn't fighting anymore.  In the post-match press conference, Garry said, "Today's game don't even count as a game because probably it was even published somewhere else.  I was not in the mood of playing at all." 

Y.C. Harry says that IBM won, not Deep Blue.  IBM may indeed have won as well, but let's not take any credit away from Deep Blue and its team.  The contest was close and they did not show any superiority, but they did indeed win fair and square.  It wasn't their fault or choice that Garry "wasn't in the mood."

I think many people are missing the point.  For over 40 years, man has been attempting to develop a computer (i.e. a combination of software and hardware) that can defeat the best humans at chess.  And now that time is almost (but not quite) here.  As a computer programmer myself I think it's wonderful!  It says a lot for man and what he can accomplish.  The "Day of Doom" for mankind?  Bah! The last time I checked machines help man!  It's interesting to note that only now, when computers are starting to win, do you here the arguments about computers and their opening books, endgame databases, in-between-game adjustments, etc.  I don't recall hearing these arguments at all 10, 15, 20 years ago, when the beasts were regularly losing!

I too, would like to see another match.  And I wouldn't be surprised if Garry cleaned its clock!  Revenge, determination, vindictiveness -- these are qualities only a human can enjoy!

- Edward D. Collins

  Mesa, AZ