Nearly 25 years ago, the world chess champion Garry Kasparov was defeated by the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue in a series of matches watched around the world. The Guardian’s US deputy sport editor, Bryan Graham, tells Michael Safi he vividly remembers those games, played in his home town of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It seemed as if chess had been changed forever.
Now the game of chess is in the midst of another pivotal transformation. With the rise of online chess and the recent success of the Netflix show The Queen’s Gambit, the game has never been more popular – or accessible. But breakthroughs in computing have made it increasingly bloodless: top players simply study and memorise the ‘perfect’ moves (as determined by computers), reinforcing a style of play that more often than not ends in a draw.
The first five games in this year’s world championship in Dubai – which all ended in ‘perfect’ draws – seemed to be following a familiar pattern. But then, the reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen surprised his opponent – and chess fans everywhere – in a match that upended expectations, offering a symbolic win for humans over machines.
Archive: Arcade Fire, Chess 24, Pathe, CBS, YouTube, CBS, Chess.com, Netflix
Support The Guardian
The Guardian is editorially independent.
And we want to keep our journalism open and accessible to all.
But we increasingly need our readers to fund our work.