24 February 2017 | 9 °C

Man Versus Machine

By Rob Last edited 141 months ago
Man Versus Machine
hal2001.jpg

There is something really beguiling about human Vs computer chess matches.

Despite the main elements being a bloke who plays chess and a very complicated bit of software, these kind of matchups somehow transcend simple geekiness.

Maybe we feel there's something lurking in these tournaments that holds the key to the future of the human consciousness: a profound kernel of truth that will maybe give us some clue to what lies at the end of that msyterious road marked 'Evolution'.

Or maybe we just all want to see the computer kick some human butt.

Whatever the reason there's going to be a lot of attention around the Michael Adamns versus Hydra match taking place at the Wembley Centre next month.

Today's Guardian has a preview of the tournament at which the UK's leading chess grandmaster will go up against a piece of kit which (apart from having a spooky sounding name) incorporates 64 computers, can analyse 200m chess moves in a second, thinks up to 40 moves ahead, and dabbles in a bit of DNA and fingerprint matching in its spare time.

Oh, and it's never lost a match to a grandmaster.

Understandably then, many people are backing the machine to win, including the editor of British Chess magazine, John Saunders, who believes "computers now have the upper hand over human players".

We can't confirm this, but there is a rumour that if Hydra begins to lose a match it will attempt to unnerve its opponent by uttering the words "Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it," in a spooky 'HAL from 2001' voice.

Last Updated 25 May 2005