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Page last updated at 13:18 GMT, Monday, 8 February 2010
Chess battle of man against machine at Liverpool's FACT
Gary Kasparov
Gary Kasparov took on the IBM computer Deep Blue in 1997

It was billed as the a fight for the future of humanity, and humanity lost.

In 1997 world chess champion Gary Kasparov took on IBM's Deep Blue computer in a battle of man against machine.

The organiser of Liverpool's 2008 chess tournament, Professor David Robertson, has analysed the event and will present his findings at FACT on 10 February 2010.

The talk will follow a screening of Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine.

"The original match with Deep Blue was set up by IBM and they wanted to , I think, take on the world champion as a marketing device for themselves," explains Professor Robertson.

"I think Kasparov actually felt that he'd beat it without too much trouble and the view is that he didn't really prepare for the match closely and got found out by Deep Blue.

"What we do know from Kasparov's point of view is he was extremely annoyed to lose, he's probably annoyed to lose to anybody let alone a computer.

"Kasaparov's point of view was that it was a serious game of chess which he though he'd win, but from IBM's point of view it was all about the showbiz and selling their computer expertise."

Professor Robertson says that a crucial advantage for Deep Blue was that Kasparov was unable to second guess the computers logic, "One of the problems that Kasparov had was that he wasn't given sight of the Deep Blue program.

"Normally when a player of his calibre plays a program they get the program beforehand to play with and test, and they can begin to work out how the program defines strategy and so forth, and get some feeling for the machine.

Chess tournament in the Netherlands
Chess tournaments can associate cities with high skills

"Something similar would happen if he was playing an opponent and he'd prepare for them but IBM wouldn't let him have the program to prepare with and then there was the allegation that they did tweak it mid match when they saw what Kasparov was doing.

"That he felt was an unfair advantage as well.

"My view of it is that Kasparov took it all a bit personally, but he had a lot at stake as the world champion and he is the greatest player that's ever lived."

Professor Robertson organised the Liverpool Chess International 2008 tournament with the aim of raising the city's profile as a centre of excellence, "The idea was to try and produce an impression of Liverpool that the city is a place of high skills and high quality and intellectual endeavour, alongside the things that Liverpool is conventionally known for and to try and say the city is a major European city," he explains.

"Cities like Dresden and Barcelona have regular chess tournaments, very big ones, they run them as a regular event and in some European cities they're used as regenerations too because they recognise if you associate your city with high skills like chess other investors come in.

"They begin to associate the image of the city with things like this and that was part of the attempt to do that.

"I think in some measure we were successful, but obviously it needs to be continued.

"It's an issue of money, as with all these things.

Gary Kasparov
Professor Robertson thinks Kasparov's defeat was inevitable

"Chess is relatively inexpensive but even so we still need six figure sums to run a big international tournament, and that needs sponsors, either the city sponsors it or private sponsors take it up.

"At the moment there's no obvious sign given the credit crunch that that's going to happen soon."

Looking back at the Kasparov v Deep Blue battle, Professor Robertson believes that the outcome of a computer triumphing was in some ways inevitable.

"I think the test can a computer be programmed to beat the greatest chess player is a fair test.

"It's inevitable that a computer will be better at chess than the greatest human being in the same way that it is inevitable that a fork lift truck can lift more than the world weight lifting champion, or that a Ferrari can go faster than you can.

"Usain Bolt can't outrace a machine and a human being can't 'outcrunch' a computer.

"What interests me is the way in which as human beings we make decisions in situations of crisis.

"What is it we know and learn about the human capacity to manage decisions working under stress?"

Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine is shown at FACT on Wednesday, 10 February at 1800GMT followed by analysis and talk from Professor David Robertson.

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