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Deep Blue greets celebrity with silence

Deep Blue

May 13, 1997
Web posted at: 6:24 a.m. EDT (1024 GMT)

From Correspondent Jeanne Moos

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Surprisingly enough, the computer that had world chess champion Gary Kasparov literally pulling out his own hair doesn't look all that much like a world beater. In fact, it looks like a big, boring box.

Why, you could walk right by Deep Blue without even realizing you're passing something deep. So it begs the question, after the big victory was Deep Blue feeling its oats?

"Computers don't really feel anything," said Matt Thoenees, a senior engineer for IBM. "Not even oats."

In fact, Deep Blue didn't even seem to know it won.


His press clippings say it all: "The world's greatest human chess player threw tantrum and cried foul after being thrashed by a supercomputer."

But it was actually Kasparov who got the royal treatment in the match, from a dressing room to a retreat between moves to improved lighting.

"He was concerned about shadows on the board from the pieces," said Gabriel Silberman of IBM's research staff.

He, she or it?

Deep Blue, however, had to settle for lousy florescent lighting and a fan to supplement the air conditioning in its cramped 35th floor room.

Still, it was Deep Blue's moves that kept the commentators gasping. Though no one knew what to call Deep Blue. Was it he, she an it?

Deep Blue

"It's really 'it,'" one of Blue's movers said. "It's a machine."

That doesn't mean people haven't slipped up and called Blue "he." It's enough to give a computer an identity crisis.

The morning after Blue's victory, IBM personnel were already pulling the chess champ's plugs.

Victor's burden

"Remember 2001 Space Odyssey?" said one of Blue's movers.

In that film, a stubborn, murderous computer named HAL didn't go willingly. But Deep Blue went without a whimper.

Checkers, anyone?

In fact, Blue's main concern was getting out of the Equitable Building which isn't an easy task when your frame is 6 feet, 7 inches. Workers had to remove a magnetic lock so the supercomputer could fit through.

And by the way, Deep Blue's not just deep, it's heavy. It almost did to a mover what it did to Kasparov -- crushed him.

It's something Kasparov would like to do to Deep Blue the next time.

"I'll personally guarantee I'll tear it to pieces," Kasparov said.

After all, it was Deep Blue that left Kasparov scratching, clutching and shaking his head. We bet he'd like to deep six Deep Blue.


Karpasov vs. Deep Blue The Rematch  |  The Match-Up  |  Round One
The Message Board  |  The Chess Links

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