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Behind Deep Blue:
Building the Computer that Defeated the World Chess Champion
Feng-hsiung Hsu
With a New Afterword by the Author

Paperback | 2004 | $45.00 | £37.95 | ISBN: 9780691118185
320 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 30 line illus. 10 halftones.
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On May 11, 1997, as millions worldwide watched a stunning victory unfold on television, a machine shocked the chess world by defeating the defending world champion, Garry Kasparov. Written by the man who started the adventure, Behind Deep Blue reveals the inside story of what happened behind the scenes at the two historic Deep Blue vs. Kasparov matches. This is also the story behind the quest to create the mother of all chess machines. The book unveils how a modest student project eventually produced a multimillion dollar supercomputer, from the development of the scientific ideas through technical setbacks, rivalry in the race to develop the ultimate chess machine, and wild controversies to the final triumph over the world's greatest human player.

In nontechnical, conversational prose, Feng-hsiung Hsu, the system architect of Deep Blue, tells us how he and a small team of fellow researchers forged ahead at IBM with a project they'd begun as students at Carnegie Mellon in the mid-1980s: the search for one of the oldest holy grails in artificial intelligence--a machine that could beat any human chess player in a bona fide match. Back in 1949 science had conceived the foundations of modern chess computers but not until almost fifty years later--until Deep Blue--would the quest be realized.

Hsu refutes Kasparov's controversial claim that only human intervention could have allowed Deep Blue to make its decisive, "uncomputerlike" moves. In riveting detail he describes the heightening tension in this war of brains and nerves, the "smoldering fire" in Kasparov's eyes. Behind Deep Blue is not just another tale of man versus machine. This fascinating book tells us how man as genius was given an ultimate, unforgettable run for his mind, no, not by the genius of a computer, but of man as toolmaker.


"Mr. Hsu manages to make seemingly dry, technical material vivid and gripping, even for readers without a background in chess or computers. And his story is a fascinating study, of men as well as machines."--Christopher F. Chabris, The Wall Street Journal

"Hsu's account is written in an easy, flowing style, and, as he says, it is rather light-hearted. . . . The point that Hsu makes is that building and programming a computer that can calculate 2 million chess moves a second is not frivolous . . . All science is a kind of play, in the sense of a play of mind. . . . Most of Behind Deep Blue is Hsu's tale of encountering and overcoming obstacles in the design and programming of the computer to enable it to play chess like a human being. The technical aspects of both computers and chess will be fully comprehensible only to those with the appropriate experience and skill. The human story, though, is clear and exciting: dversity encountered, challenges met, all with the human elements of pride and anxiety and triumph. And the human elements, too, of anger and resentment."--Anthony Day, Los Angeles Times

"This book tells the gripping story of the construction, programming, preparation and use of the Deep Blue chess machine and its predecessors. It proves on every page the author's claim that computer scientists are human too, and they do like to have fun. The fun will be shared by the reader who has no prior knowledge of chess or of computer science."--Tony Hoare, Times Higher Education Supplement

"A chess-playing machine rather than a mere program, Deep Blue drew its awesome power from chips designed by Hsu to do nothing but play chess. The IBM team put 256 of these processors into a supercomputer, allowing it to analyze at least 100 million chess positions a second."--Nell Boyce, U.S. News and World Report

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Table of Contents:

Preface i
Acknowledgements v
Chess Notation viii
CHAPTER 1: Prologue: Show Time! 1
CHAPTER 2: Carnegie Mellon: An Office of Troublemakers 6
CHAPTER 3: Taking the Plunge 17
CHAPTER 4: The Chess Machine That Wasn't 43
CHAPTER 5: The Race for First Machine Grandmaster 66
CHAPTER 6: "Knock, Knock. Who's There?" 87
CHAPTER 7: Intermezzo: First Date with History 102
CHAPTER 8: IBM: We Need a New Name 120
CHAPTER 9: Bringing up the Baby 138
CHAPTER 10: A Living Mount Everest 157
CHAPTER 11: Retooling 181
CHAPTER 12: The Holy Grail 199
CHAPTER 13: Epilogue: Life After Chess 256
APPENDIX A: A Lad from Taiwan 270
APPENDIX B: Selected Game Scores 285
APPENDIX C: Further Reading 290
Index 293

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