General articles

John Henderson

Lev Khariton

Mig on Chess

V. Krishnaswamy






Multimedia Report by Frederic Friedel:

Garry Kasparov vs. Deep Blue

May 1997

On the ChessBase Magazine 58 CD this report contains extensive multimedia sequences (630 megabyte). Naturally only a few can be included on our web site, in very compressed "Real Video" format. The games, too, contain video sequences which are automatically shown when you play through the moves. A few are included in Game 4 below, to give you an impression of how they appear in ChessBase. At the end of this report you will find the games annotated by John Nunn.

Garry Kasparov telling us what he felt during a game, in a video sequence from CBM 58

Contents (click to jump to any chapter)

  1. Introduction - with some technical information
  2. Before the match
  3. The press conference
  4. Round 1 - Saturday, May 3rd
  5. Round 2 - Sunday, May 4th
  6. Encounters
  7. The road to hell
  8. Round 3 - Tuesday, May 6th
  9. Round 4 - Wednesday, May 7th
  10. Discussion with Daniel King
  11. Round 5 - Saturday, May 10th
  12. The end - Round 6, Sunday May 11th
  13. A final goodbye – Monday May 12th

1. Introduction

It was the most spectacular chess event in history, the revenge match between Garry Kasparov and the IBM super-computer Deep Blue, played out in New York at the beginning of May 1997. I was part of the Kasparov team and spent over two weeks in Manhattan. During that time I wrote daily reports, both for "Club Kasparov", which was part of the IBM website, and our own I returned home with over six hours of video material, which I have used to produce this multimedia report.

There is a total of one and a quarter hours of multimedia on the ChessBase Magazine 58 CD. Do not try to watch all of it at once – it will make you meschugga (if you know what I mean).

2. Before the match

The Kasparov camp was set up in the Plaza Hotel at Central Park. Garry had suite 423, at the corner overlooking the park. Yuri Dokhojan, Garry's GM second and I had rooms on the same floor. There were three computers in Garry’s suite: one mainly for database access, the second for chess analysis, and the third for Internet and e-mail. The most powerful computer, a Pentium Pro 200, was reserved for Fritz, which ran day and night, usually crunching away at some key position. Garry was using the Hiarcs 6.0 engine, which he considers the strongest PC program currently available.

Yuri Dokhojan working at the computer (with IM Mike Khodarkovsky,
a good friend of the Kasparov clan).

Garry studying the latest Informant.

Sometimes Garry would play a few quick games, just to keep warm. But there was only a limited amount to be learnt from these games. We had to remember that Deep Blue is a cool one thousand times faster than Fritz. This means that moves which Deep Blue will play in three minutes would theoretically require two days to appear on our PC (actually, we discovered it was closer to six hours).

The daily routine was quite pleasant: breakfast at nine thirty, a couple of hours work, then, if the New York weather was co-operative, a long walk in Central Park. After that came lunch, a snooze, then some more work, and finally dinner, more often than not in one of the very fine Japanese restaurants located within walking distance of the hotel.

The first video sequence (you thought it was never coming, didn’t you?) gives us an impression of daily life in the Big Apple. It starts with the Plaza reflected in the skyscraper opposite, takes us on a walk through the park, and ends in a typical street scene.

Video: Scenes from Manhattan

3. The press conference

The media attention for the match was overwhelming. At the beginning of the week we picked up Newsweek with Garry on the cover, and the German news magazine Der Spiegel with a title story of 12 pages. At the press conference two days before the match the room was completely packed, with TV crews all around the back. I saw reporters from CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, BBC (TV and radio), the German ZDF and RTL, the French Channel 2, the Russian NTV, and many others. Garry was in top form, enjoying the limelight and bantering light-heartedly with his counterpart C. J. Tan, the head of the IBM Deep Blue team.

Video: The media and guests. (Garry's mother Klara in green in the front row),
C.J. and Garry address the audience.

Video: Garry on his opponent Deep Blue

  • Video: Garry complains about lack of information on his opponent (700 KB)

Audio: C.J. Tan with technical details on the latest incarnation of Deep Blue

Audio: Garry on his strategy for this match

Audio: Garry on humans being challenged by computers and what it will mean if they overtake us in chess

The playing site

The next day we had the final inspection of the playing site, which was really quite different from anything I had ever seen before. It was not a hall with a stage but a television studio, located in the 39th storey of the Equitable Center. It was decorated as a sort of aristocratic living room, with book shelves, paintings and a giant medieval globe.

Video: Arbiter Carol Jarecki and Garry Kasparov
at the playing table and examining the clock

4. Round 1 - Saturday, May 3rd

Garry was required to arrive at the playing table five minutes before the scheduled start of the game (at 3 p.m.). Waiting for him was always a pack of reporters, completely filling the room, armed with TV and photographic cameras, clicking and flashing away, jostling each other for the best spot, calling out to Garry to look their way.

Real Video: The start of game one, with Feng-hsiung Hsu operating Deep Blue

About two minutes after the actual start of the game the reporters were ushered out – and the next half entered for their turn! We knew this was going to happen (it had all been negotiated a few days before), but when it actually did it was quite shocking. It usually took about fifteen minutes before Garry could settle down to the game.

In the database attached to this text you will find all the games of the match in two copies. The first version contains annotations written for the ChessBase website by John Nunn immediately after each game. The second version contains multimedia elements (which would be difficult to find in John's extensive analysis). In games three, four and five you will also find the original postmortem analysis of Garry, generated on the Fritz screen a few hours after the games were over.

  • Game 1: Kasparov,G vs Deep Blue with John Nunn's commentary
  • Real Video: Kasparov on a key position in this game
  • Real Video: Kasparov on a key position in this game

There were no spectators in the small studio, the audience was in the basement theatre, 42 storeys below. It seated about 500 and was always sold out. The games were commentated by GM Yassir Seirawan, Maurice Ashley and Mike Valvo, with guests periodically coming up on the stage to be interviewed when there was a lull on the board. They used the program Fritz4 to display and analyse the position on the middle of three giant projection screens. On the other two you could see the board and scenes from the playing room. After the game Garry usually came down to meet the audience.

Video: Garry tells the audience about an explosive situation in the game

Real Video:
Murray Campbell explains that Deep Blue cannot learn

Audio: Garry on the course of the game

Video: Garry describes his strategy in this game, how he had only played on his half of the board


That night in the hotel we crowded around the Fritz screen and went through the game. Garry entered and checked a number of variations. In the position before the final move by Deep Blue he had a problem.

Game 1, position after 44.f6

The game continued 44...Rd1 45.g7 and Black resigned. Sitting in front of the computer Garry started trying out other lines, beginning with 44...Rf5+. Then he turned to me (his "computer expert") and said: "How could Deep Blue play 44...Rd1 and lose immediately? 44...Rf5+ also loses, but it puts up much more resistance. How can a computer commit suicide like that?" I had no immediate answer, it did indeed look very strange. Garry continued to potter around with Fritz, and suddenly he found the solution himself. After 44...Rf5+ White has 45.Ke3! with beautiful forced wins: 47...Rd8 48.g7 Rxc2+ 49.Ke1 Rc1+ 50.Kf2 Rc2+ 51.Kg3 Rc3+ (somewhere around here Fritz started to announce mates) 52.Kh4 Rc1 (after 52...Rd1 we have 53.g8N+! and mate) 53.g8Q Rh1+ 54.Kg3 Rg1+ 55.Kf4 Rf1+ 56.Ke5 Rd5+ 57.Ke6, and if you really want to go on, it's 57...Rf6+ 58.Kxf6 Rd6+ 59.Ke7 Rd7+ 60.Kxd7 c5 61.Qg6 mate. Another line we checked with Fritz was 50...e3+ 51.Kg2 e2 (51...Rc2+ 52.Kh3 is mate in 8) 52.g8Q Rxg8 53.fxg8Q Rg1+ 54.Kf3 Rxg4 55.Qh8+ Kg6 56.Qe8+ Kf5 57.Qf7+ Ke5 58.Kxg4, which had the whole team laughing.

You can look at these variations by loading the game:

  • Game 1: Kasparov,Ga - Deep Blue: Game 1 with Garry's postmortem analysis on 44...Rf5+

The conclusion was a little bit scary. In the diagram position Deep Blue had actually worked it all out, down to the very end and simply chosen the least obnoxious losing line. "It probably saw mates in 20 and more", said Garry, thankful that he had been on the right side of these awesome calculations.

5. Round 2 - Sunday, May 4th

The day started with us having to wade through an incredible number of marathon runners in Central Park. Getting to the playing hall was also not simple, since the streets were crowded for a Cuban carnival. But the game started punctually with both sides whipping out moves in a deep prepared variation, which unfortunately turned out not to be too good for Black.

Video: Central Park, Cuban festival, start of game 2

In the commentary hall I watched (and filmed) Yasser, Maurice and Patrick Wolff reacting to some very critical moves. You will find the video sequences embedded in the following game. I have included the time stamp so we know exactly when each move was executed.

  • Game 2: with Real video of commentators in the theatre reacting to critical moves and with annotations by Dr John Nunn.

Deep Blue was playing deep strategic chess, "just like Karpov", the experts on the stage agreed. They could hardly believe it was the same machine that lost yesterday's game. Patrick Wolff said: "Show it to any expert and he'll guess it was played by a very strong grandmaster."

Losing the game - and so badly -was naturally quite devastating for the Champ. Garry left the site without facing the audience, but the Deep Blue team was there to savour their equalising victory.

Video: Joel Benjamin says he feels great about the game, which was "real chess, a game any human grandmaster would be proud of."

Back at the hotel Garry was deep in his analysis of what had happened. There were many mystifying moments in the game. He was especially puzzled by 36.Qb6 instead of 36.axb6, and 37.Be4, instead of 37.Qb6. No amount of coaxing would persuade Fritz4 or Hiarcs 6.0 to waver from Qb6 in both cases. Deep Blue must contain some highly sophisticated positional instructions that have never before been seen in a chess program. Or it calculated the variations to depths that defy imagination.

6. Encounters

The match Garry Kasparov vs. Deep Blue was visited by about 200 journalists from over 60 countries. During the games I had numerous interesting discussions with members of the press corps and other visitors. Some of the "local boys" became friends, and I turned my video camera on a few of them.

Bruce Weber is the star columnist of the New York Times, which carried almost every game on the front page. Bruce always wears the cap, even when scuba-diving in the Caribbean waters. I had many interesting discussions with him, usually getting his point of view in the editorial section of the NYT the next morning. Here he tells me whom he is rooting for and what he thinks of the significance of the match.

Video: So who is Bruce Weber rooting for?

Audio: What is the significance of the final result? Bruce tells it like it is.

James Kim is a reporter for USA Today, one of the biggest newspapers in the world. It is not the place you would expect to find chess stories, but Jim changed that. He tells us why the subject is suddenly so popular in his paper.

  • Video: James Kim of USA Today thinks the match is a good metaphor for the future role of computers in society

There were also a lot of chess people present. I cornered Miguel Illescas who, as we had discovered a few weeks before the match, had been working as part of the Deep Blue team.

Video: Miguel tells us that Deep Blue plays like an angel

It was a special pleasure to meet and chat with Women's World Champion Susan Polgar. I have known her since she was 13 (and her two sisters were babies). Now she is happily married and has settled in Queens. She told me that she had challenged Deep Blue herself.

Real video: Susan Polgar has unofficially challenged Deep Blue and has received an unofficial "no" for an answer

7. The road to hell

On the evening after the devastating defeat we were up late studying the game. When I got to my room just after midnight I found e-mail waiting from ChessBase in Hamburg, showing me a very nice win for White in the final position. It went like this:

45...Qe3 46.Qxd6 Re8! 47.h4! Re7 48.Bf3 Qc1+ 49.Kf2 Qd2+ 50.Kg3 Qe1+ 51.Kg4 h5+ 52.Kxh5 Qg3 53.Qe6+ Rxe6 54.dxe6+ Kg8 (otherwise it's mate) 55.Ra8+ Kh7 56.Rh8+ Kxh8 57.e7 Kh7 58.e8Q and White wins. Very pretty.

While preparing for bed I left the position after 47.h4! on the screen. Suddenly I noticed that Fritz was suggesting the move 47...h5. Hmmm, that cuts of the escape route for the white king. I played around for a while and was not able to find a win for White any more. But it was two a.m. and I was too tired to check everything carefully. But it certainly looked like a draw.

The next morning I carefully extracted Yuri Dokhoyan from the work suite and took him to my room to look at the analysis. Yuri drew a sharp breath at 46...Re8 and said, "We didn't look at this move." He started checking my analysis and after some time came to the shocking conclusion: this move really draws, Garry resigned too soon! The full line from the diagram position is 45...Qe3 46.Qxd6 Re8! 47.h4! h5!! 48.Bf3 Qc1+ 49.Kf2 Qd2+ 50.Be2 Qf4+ 51.Kg1 Qe3+ 52.Kf1 Qc1+. White cannot escape the checks, the pawn on h5 prevents the king from escaping.

  • Game 2: Deep Blue - Kasparov,G

Now came the tough part: how to tell Garry. Walking with him to an Italian restaurant for breakfast Yuri and I debated whether we should wait until after lunch or ruin the meal for him. We decided to go ahead and Yuri broke the news gently. Garry clutched his head and froze in the middle of the Fifth Avenue. There were no expletives, no cursing, just stunned silence. We walked on to the restaurant and there, after many minutes of gloom, he looked up at me and said "Re8, h4, h5 that was all? I was so impressed by the deep positional play of the computer that I didn't think there was any escape."

Later I was interviewed by Bobby Batista on CNN about this amazing missed draw. Just outside the studio a charming lady warned me about my prospects of going to hell. In some ways it seemed symbolic to enter a modern virtual reality arcade right across the street from her...

  • Video: Interview in CNN, preacher on the street, game arcade

8. Round 3 - Tuesday, May 6th

In the third game Garry started with the move 1.d3, not something he generally does in his major tournaments. But it worked, Deep Blue had to start computing on its own, right from the beginning. Four minutes into the game Garry was pacing the floor.

Video: Start of the game with Deep Blue "out of book"

One of the pioneers of computer chess events is IM David Levy, who in 1968 bet a number of famous scientists that no computer would be able to beat him for ten years (he won the bet). David went on to become the president of the International Computer Chess Association, which regularly stages world computer chess championships. I asked David about his views on this match.

Video: David thinks this match is much more exciting than Kasparov vs. Karpov

  • Video: In the first game Deep Blue played like a 2350 player, in the second like a strategic genius
  • Video: Why did Deep Blue play so well in the second game? David thinks Garry made a mistake in his opening strategy
  • Video: What should Garry do with Black? David has some radical advice for the world champion

On this day I also had the pleasure of meeting US women's champion Anjelina Belakovskaia, who moved from Odessa to the US five years ago - with $200 in her pocket and six words of English at her disposal. In the meantime she has become an eloquent speaker with firm views. She even has her own website (

Real video: "I don't think I am able to criticise the World Champion", says Anjelina, and then proceeds to give him some sound advice

After the game Garry went down to the auditorium. It was apparent that his mind was still on game two. In the following video sequence he tells the audience that he cannot understand that "amazing" game. When asked by Maurice Ashley whether he's implying that human intervention was involved, Garry says he was reminded of the famous goal Maradonna scored against England in 1986. "He said it was the hand of god." The audience laughed, but afterwards I got mobbed by journalists who wanted to know who Maradonna was and what the "hand of god" thing meant. Soccer is not big in the US. I had to explain that the Argentinean star had scored a goal not with his head but with his hand, as the slow-motion replay later revealed. When asked about this he said it was the hand of god.

Real video: Garry, still harping on game two, makes his "hand of god" remark

He didn't speak to the audience about game three, but on a rest day and at the end of the match Daniel King and I asked him about some key moments. His commentary is embedded in the following game. It also contains the full (unedited) postmortem analysis which Garry conducted on the Fritz screen immediately after the game.

  • Game 3: Kasparov,G - Deep Blue, annotated by John Nunn + Garry Kasparov's postgame ananylsis

9. Round 4 - Wednesday, May 7th

In his second black game Garry was feeling a little more optimistic, after the relatively comfortable game three. But he still played an atypical setup, getting the computer out of book at an early stage and forcing it to figure out how the opening should be handled. You know, of the many pieces of advice we received for this match, solicited or otherwise, many from leading experts, about half advocated that Garry should simple go ahead and "play chess", because he is so much stronger than the machine; while the other half advocated adopting a special style, getting the computer out of book and making it solve strategic problems right from the beginning (see for instance David Levy above). I am sure that if Garry had had an extra point or two under his belt he would have gone for the aggressive approach, but with an unpredictable opponent and the black pieces he opted for the more cautious line of play.

Audio: Today the outspoken Anjelina approves of Garry's strategy in the opening

At move 20 Garry thought for a long time and then played a pawn sacrifice which nobody in the audience had anticipated. Many people came rushing to me to ask whether he had lost his marbles - only Gabriel Schwarzman and Anjelina Belakovskaia immediately approved of the move

  • Audio: "We don't calculate pawns during the game, the important thing is the result," says Anjelina about move 20

After the game Garry was greeted by long applause in the basement theatre. He was obviously exhausted and disappointed, feeling that he had probably missed a draw. Joe Hoane acknowledged that Ken Thompson had played a decisive role in this game. In the ending the computer had been "hitting" Ken's rook and pawn vs. rook endgame database in its search and, instead of trying to evaluate these it had been able to retrieve perfect judgement on them. The endgame database knows every legal R+P v R position and whether it wins, loses or draws.

Video: Exhausted and disappointed Garry talks about a missed opportunity. Joe Hoane of the IBM team acknowledges the use of Ken Thompson's endgame database.

  • Game 4: Deep Blue - Kasparov, annotated by John Nunn + Garry Kasparov's postgame ananylsis
    Note that this game contains Real video commentary by Garry Kasparov

10. Discussion with Daniel King

On the day after game four, the first of two rest days, Garry sat down with Daniel King to discuss the progress of the match so far. I start with a video sequence showing his suite and the table where Garry worked with Yuri. In the evenings there was usually an important ice-hockey game to divert their attention.

Real video: The Kasparov suite 423 in the Plaza Hotel.

Real video: "In three games my tactics of avoiding the main lines have worked well," Garry told us.

  • Audio: Daniel asks Garry whether he feels comfortable with the openings he is playing. "How can you be afraid of Joel Benjamin's preparation?"

Garry also spoke at length about the last game. I have embedded these comments into the game, which also contains the full, informal postmortem analysis Garry had entered into Fritz the previous evening.

  • Game 5: Kasparov - Deep Blue, annotated by John Nunn + Garry Kasparov's postgame ananylsis

  • Video: Daniel tells Garry that game four reminded some people of Anand.

Before we finished Daniel asked Garry about random chess, shuffling the pieces in the initial position. Would Deep Blue would have a chance?

  • Video: "It would be dead" says Garry. He explains how the computer profits from human openings theory

Finally Daniel asks him about the last two games, and the prospects of winning or losing the match.

  • Audio: "Whatever the outcome we know that Deep Blue can be beaten. If it wins it is only because of human weaknesses."

11. Round 5 - Saturday, May 10th

"Chess is War" was the headline in USA Today's cover story. The paper reports that nearly one million people had been following Wednesday's game on the IBM website, move by move, during the three and a half hours it ran. Even IBM president Lou Gerstner visited the event to fire up the Deep Blue team.

Garry looked confident during most of the game, even when, as usual, many experts were panicking over the quality of White's position. But just when everybody at last seemed to agree that he was actually winning Deep Blue pulled out a most amazing defence, forcing Garry's king into a perpetual. The manoeuvre left the entire auditorium gasping, but, Garry told us later that he had seen it coming, as early as move 40, probably even before Deep Blue. But he was baffled by another move of the computer. Once again the following game contains the full, unedited postmortem analysis conducted by Garry immediately after the game.

  • Game 6 : Deep Blue - Kasparov, annotated by John Nunn

In the auditorium after the game Garry was greeted by a rousing standing ovation, with more clapping and cheering than I have ever seen at a chess event - or anything this side of a rock concert. When the Deep Blue team joined him on the stage the welcome was less cordial.

Video: Tumultuous applause after game five

Video: Garry admits he's afraid of the machine

12. The end - Round 6, Sunday May 11th

Disaster. I could sense it already early that morning. In the two weeks we had all been together in New York I had never seen Garry so tense. He hardly spoke, and on the way to the site the mood was dark. When I saw the game start I really had a sinking feeling. In 19 moves it was all over, with the world champion falling into a well-known openings trap.

There has been a lot of speculation on whether Garry went into the disastrous opening line with his eyes open, or whether he had simply committed a "fingerfehler". How could this have happened? Well, you are going to have to draw your own conclusions. I will merely lay out the evidence. For starters I present the drama as it unfolded, with Garry making the decisive moves. Please note that I have time-stamped the sequence (hours:min:sec), so you know exactly how it happened.

15:07:31 - Garry plays 6...e6
15:07:39 - Joe Hoane plays 7.N1f3 for the machine
15:09:05 - After 1 min 24 sec Garry plays 7...h6
15:09:15 - Deep Blue plays 8.Nxe6 out of book. Garry shakes his head bitterly, writes down the move
15:09:28 - Garry plays 8...Qe7 without any further thought
15:09:40 - Deep Blue castles
15:09:44 - Garry plays 9.fxe6 à tempo
15:09:52 - Joe Hoane tries to move the bishop from c1 to g6, realizes that it is the other bishop and corrects the move
15:10:01 - Garry moves his king out of check and sinks into deep despair

Real video: The entire drama took just one minute to unfold (433 KB)

What went through his mind, what caused him to play this line? There are some answers to be found in the final discussion with Garry, given in the last video sequence in this article.

Just over an hour later the world champion had resigned against the computer. He came up to the press room to face the journalists and TV cameras. Naturally I taped the entire press conference. Here are the highlights.

  • Real video: Garry quells the applause saying "I don't deserve it"
  • Real video:"It had nothing to do with science, there was only one goal: to beat Garry Kasparov"
  • Video: "Deep Blue must now enter competitive chess! I guarantee that if they do so under regular conditions I will personally tear it to pieces."
  • Video: "I want to understand how Deep Blue won the match, I want the printouts". C.J.Tan promises to publish them in due time, Monty Newborne says it is impossible to repeat the moves in a system as complex as Deep Blue.
  • Video: "I cannot explain what happened today. I am a human being and proved to be vulnerable"
  • Video: "In competitive chess there is no room for friendly relations. The next time I'll play 1.e4 and 1...c5."
  • Real video: "My biggest mistakes were not to demand better conditions, and to follow the advice of computer specialists who all recommended to play these openings"

13. A final goodbye - Monday May 12th

On the day after the disastrous last round Daniel King and I had a final lunch with Garry, in the Plaza Grill. Naturally the burning question Danny had was what had happened in game six, how had he collapsed in this match?

  • Video: "I just lost my fighting spirit, after game five I was emptied completely. But I would be proud to play games four and five in any championship match."
  • Video: So how many players in the world could beat Deep Blue? Garry thinks just four.
  • Video: Is there a great difference between Deep Blue and the micros? Garry tells us that even the strongest micro program in the world is no problem for him.

Finally the question of questions: Why did he play 7...h6 in game six and collapse in the match? The answer in full length - draw your own conclusions.

  • Real video: "I didn't want to play. I was sorry about my decision to play h6. Normally computers don't take on e6."

In the meantime Garry has officially challenged Deep Blue to a third match. He did this in front of hundreds of millions of viewers, on Larry King Live. The conditions are ten games, with a day between games. The event will be organized and sponsored by external companies, not by the opponent IBM. And Garry suggests that the entire prize money should go to the winner. If he loses he is willing to recognize Deep Blue as the world champion.

At the time of writing IBM has not yet taken up the challenge.

Click here to download all the games from New York, annotated by John Nunn:
Games in ChessBase format

Games in PGN format (zipped)

You can order ChessBase Magazine 58 here.
Price: Euro 19.94 (foreign orders $15 without taxes)