Game Over: Kasparov And The Machine

The Russian chess genius' trial by computer

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In 1997, then world chess champion Garry Kasparov played the IBM-designed computer Deep Blue in a six-game match in New York. As he reveals in Vikram Jayanti’s documentary, he didn’t expect to lose. He’d defeated computers before. What he hadn’t realised was how much stock (quite literally) IBM had put on the match. When Deep Blue won the match, the company share price rocketed. Kasparov cried foul.

Jayanti’s fascinating film suffers from a lack of clear identity. The voice-overs belong in a conspiracy thriller, the interviews with computer programmers, grandmasters and journalists hint that this is investigative journalism, while all material about Kasparov’s rise through Soviet chess suggest we’re being offered a profile. Jayanti was a producer of When We Were Kings, and clearly sees Kasparov as the Ali of chess. His subject is charismatic and articulate, but Jayanti fails to answer the key questions his film asks: was the match a fix and, if not, has man now been outstripped by the machine?


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