The Campbell Report
Correspondence Chess
"On the Square" Article

I would like to thank Robert Rizzo for supplying the following review. As a CJA member I also received a copy of this DVD and found it interesting and enjoyable. There are many interviews of the main "players" in this historic event, such as Dr. Feng-Hsiung Hsu (a creator of the computer and software called Deep Blue) and many well-known chess players, such as GM Joel Benjamin, who worked with the IBM team to improve Deep Blue, and GM Yasser Seirawan. I thought it was great fun hearing and seeing so many chess people, such as chess journalist "Mig". There is some great historic footage, such as of Karparov's world championship matches. This disk is of much greater interest than just as a document of this single match. I particularly enjoyed Kasparov's guided tour of the famous Moscow chess club.

Was this, as some people characterized it, a match where Kasparov was defending humanity against the machine? I don't think so. In my opinion, the success by the computers in recent years is a great testiment to the creativity and resourcefulness of the human engineers and programmers who have created these chess-playing computers. This DVD introduces us to some of the humans who are responsible for some of the recent advances in computer play as well as the controversy that swirled around this fascinating match.
-- Franklin Campbell

IM Robert Rizzo

Robert Rizzo was born in 1949 and has been a USCF member for more than 35 years. He works on Long Island as a financial analyst where he is the captain of his company's chess team that has captured the TOP COMPANY title at the US Amateur Team - East tournament 7 times since 1990. Previously, Bob was also President of his high school and college chess clubs. Bob has held the title of USCF club level director and his directing credits include the American College Unions - International NYS Regional Chess tournament, the Under-1800 section of several NYS Championships and assisting with the Harvard Cup man vs. computer events.

Bob is the Rules Director and a charter member of the Long Island Industrial Chess League (LIICL), which he was instrumental in resurrecting in 1984. He is also Editor of the LIICL newsletter, The League Leader. As a member of the Chess Journalists of America (CJA) he has covered many top-level chess events in NYC including Karpov-Kasparov, Anand-Kasparov, Deep Blue II-Kasparov, and the two FIDE Man Vs. Computer World Championships held in NYC. Bob contributed feature articles to Chess Life for the latter two events. In the past, Bob was a frequent provider of items to the NYS Chess Association's magazine, Empire Chess, specializing in Chess Crosswords and Chess Acrostics. He has also served as an elected NYS delegate to the USCF. Bob is currently a member of the USCF Correspondence Chess Committee where he is compiling games for the Absolute Project, an endeavor to archive the games from the elite USCF correspondence tournaments of the past 30 years.

Barnes & Noble engaged Bob in 1999, to give a presentation entitled, "Chess in the 21st Century." Annually he directs a Charity Chess Tournament to raise funds for the needy and co-directs an All Star Match between the LIICL and its sister organization, the Commercial Chess League of New York. Mostly "retired" from over-the-board play, Bob now channels most of his chess energies toward correspondence tournaments and has attained the titles of USCF Correspondence Senior Master and of ICCF International Master. Bob lists his uppermost achievements to date as winning a preliminary section of the 15th United States Correspondence Chess Championship, winning a semifinal section of World Cup XII, taking the first board prize and the team title in the top section of the USCF 1998 Correspondence Team championships, earning an IM Norm in Email Masternorm 040 and winning the Jaudran B Memorial Invitational tournament where he earned his first Senior International Master Norm and his ICCF IM title.

"Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine",
a film by TH!NKFilm LLC
Reviewed by ICCF IM Robert Rizzo
(posted 5 May 2005)


As a member of the Chess Journalists of America, I was asked recently to review an advanced copy of the DVD, "Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine." Previously available in Europe, this DVD which chronicles the 1997 loss by the World's best chess player to IBM's computer, Deep Blue II, is being released in the United States and Canada on May 31, 2005.

If you are looking for chess analysis, put away your DVD player, this is not the movie for you - better that you purchase one of the books published after Garry Kasparov's 1997 match with the IBM computer, Deep Blue II, that concentrate on the missed opportunities across-the-board. In fact you do not even need to know how to play the game to grasp the essence of this film. The theme is not a subtle one, Kasparov was defeated psychologically, a purely human foible. He was his own worst enemy distracted by his own phobias. The chess-playing machine he faced was not subject to such character faults. One must conclude that, if you buy into the director's belief, Kasparov's loss was more due to himself than it was to the machine. This film is a must see, if not for chess players then as a case study for every student of psychology or human behavior.

Despite being a person of obviously high intelligence, Kasparov still falls prey to a classic case of cognitive dissonance. To this day he still implies that there was intervention, that some unnamed Grandmaster was assisting the machine. He cannot come to grips with his first ever loss of a chess match. But this is well known to those who witnessed the games and to most of the chess world; there is no new revelation here. The analogy that the film makes is to the 19th century automaton called "The Turk". That chess-playing machine actually had a master strength player hidden within its case. But please, to have so many flashbacks to this past sham is overkill - enough already, we get it!

In watching the film, one wonders what might have been the motive of both Kasparov and IBM when they agreed to participate in this movie. Each is made to look like the villain in this tragic opera. Kasparov behaved badly, like the spoiled child who did not get his way and started striking out at whoever was nearby. Brooklyn Grandmaster Joel Benjamin, a consultant to the IBM team and one of the few who is reflected in a positive light, was often the target of Garry's sarcasm. IBM, which scripted much of the event, seemed not to honor some of their agreements with Kasparov. One was the issue of the publication of the machine's "thinking" during previous games. The Kasparov camp wanted these printouts to be part of the public record while IBM did not. It was never made clear if this was a contractual term or condition. Especially troubling is the lack of a rematch. Normally such a clause is standard fare for matches involving the world champion. The viewer is left to believe that IBM management reneged - decided after winning that there was nothing more to gain, publicity-wise or in a business sense, from further encounters. Yet the movie only briefly touches upon the pall created by the non-professional ranting of Kasparov in the post-match conference. The potential for negative publicity may have played a major part in the IBM decision to shy away from another showdown. Here the film falls short of drawing the complete picture of the Kasparov psyche. On that day he upstaged John McEnroe as the poster boy for sore losers everywhere.

No mention is made of the future applications that IBM intended for this technology. They do show Deep Blue II mothballed in a remote area of their Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, NY (the only other copy in existence resides in the Smithsonian in Washington, DC). And the film does not follow up with the fact that the project leader, Feng-Hsiung Hsu, parted ways with IBM and later obtained the rights to the technology. Hsu would prove unsuccessful in his attempt to gain sponsorship for another match between Kasparov and an improved Deep Blue III. There was, however, the suggestion by the filmmakers that the psychological damage inflicted on Kasparov by this match was a key reason for his loss of the World Chess Championship to Vladimir Kramnik. This implication is reinforced by the showing of Kasparov then losing an exhibition match to Anatoly Karpov, the ex-World Champion who Kasparov had beaten repeatedly in the past. One cannot argue that there might have been some hangover effect.

There are some new revelations that make this film worth seeing. An uncanny parallel is drawn between Kasparov and another former World Champion, Bobby Fischer. In 1972 Fischer temporarily quit during his World Championship match against Boris Spassky. As a result of his actions Fischer forfeited game 2 before he was finally convinced to return and complete the match. Fast forward to 1997 - it turns out that Kasparov almost quit the match with Deep Blue II prior to game 4 over the issue of the printouts that were not delivered by IBM. After further negotiations, he was finally cajoled into playing. The reason for the delay in the start time of that game had not been previously explained.

The moviemakers also went to great lengths to make the case that what started as an amicable scientific venture eventually morphed into an all-out war of the psyche. Prior to the start of the match with Deep Blue II in 1997, most experts predicted that Garry would win. Some forecast a 6-0 shutout. Others opined that a closer margin would result but very few thought the machine, an improved version of Deep Blue I that had lost to Garry by a 4-2 score in 1996 in Philadelphia, had any chance to win. IBM's team was not confident and even professed fears of not being competitive, as was revealed in the post game 1 press conference. But after Garry missed the chance to draw in game 2, the producers of this film claimed that IBM's team sensed a chance to win the match and their subsequent strategy changed. After that point, the IBM team actions were geared to prey on the psychological effect that this lost opportunity had on a very emotional Kasparov. That could explain their cat-and-mouse negotiating tactics concerning the printouts and other facets of the match. The IBM team even boasted that they believed that Kasparov had "cracked" before the final game. Kasparov's own admissions confirmed this.

The unanswered question that one goes away with is - What is producer Vikram Jayanti's intended meaning of "Game Over" in the title of this film? Is the significance that this marks the end of mankind's ability to out-strategize machines? Does it intimate that this match harkened the start of the decline of Kasparov's illustrious chess career? Does it connote the end of IBM's research into artificial intelligence? Or is it something else? Is it all of these things? Clearly Kasparov had not lost much in the eight years that followed this match in that he recently "retired" as number one on the world-rating list. Several matches held since 1997, between top-level GM's (including Kasparov) and PC based computer programs, have not conclusively decided the answer to the question as to whether carbon or silicon based competitors are better. Surely IBM is still doing lots of research in this field, only not with the platform that made up the heart of Deep Blue II. Despite this puzzling moniker the film still should be of interest to most people. But the filmmakers should heed "The Bard" - the game is not over - "the game's afoot".


© 2005 Robert Rizzo. All rights reserved.

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