Chinook

Chinook vs. Tinsley

Man vs. Machine World Checkers Championship
London, United Kingdom
August 17 - 29, 1992
The 1992 Man vs. Machine World Checkers Championship between Chinook and Marion Tinsley was held at the Park Lane Hotel in London, United Kingdom. This site had been previously used for the 1986 World Chess Championship between Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov.

The match organizers were Raymond Keene and David Levy. Raymond Keene is an International Chess Grandmaster and is widely known for his prolific writing of chess books. He also edits a weekly chess column for a London newspaper. David Levy is an International Chess Master and former Scottish Champion. He is most famous for the bet he made in 1968 with four professors of artificial intelligence that no chess program could beat him in a match within 10 years. This bet stood for the next 21 years until Deep Thought convincingly beat him 4-0 in a four game match in 1989.

The match arbiter was Con McCarrick, a Draughts master from Ireland.

Chinook ran on a Silicon Graphics 4D/480 provided by the match sponsors. This machine contained 8 processors and had 256 megabytes of memory. Chinook was also equipted with all the 1-7 piece endgame databases, and 40% of the 8 piece databases.

This was the first time in history a machine has challenged a human for an official title in a non-trivial game of skill. The match received a large amount of publicity, both in the United Kingdom and around the world.

The opening ceremony took place on Sunday August 16, 1992. Many dignitaries were present, including most of the top British chess players. Tony Buzan was the master of ceremonies, and Lord Brockett officially opened the match. We may have had a taste of things to come when Marion, in his opening speech, several times reiterated "I cannot lose"!

The match itself was in the Tudor Rose room. A spectator, upon walking into the room, would see several rows of seats for viewing the match (complete with tap water, bottled water, a box of mints, paper and pencil). The front of the room had 3 distinct sections. To the left, on a 1-foot platform, was the table where the games would be played. Besides the checker board, pieces, and clock, a computer terminal was on the table for us to enter the moves to Chinook. Behind where we would sit was another SGI computer which was used to relay the game moves to a display for the audience to view. The table used was the same one used for the previous match between Karpov and Kasparov.

In the center of the room was a large display showing the progress of the games. Angus Henderson, of SGI in Switzerland, developed a beautiful computer-generated checkers board, with realistic hands reaching out to make the moves. The hands turned out to be exact images of Angus' own hands. The audience was mesmerized as these hands realistically reached out, picked up and moved/removed checkers. Everyone was impressed.

Marion Tinsley was quoted as saying that "Chinook was programmed by Jonathan, but I am programmed by God." This brought out the philosophical side of many of the reporters present at the match. Some argued for technological advances; others believed in the indomitable human spirit.

The media called this match a clash between man and machine. They were right, but they had it backwards. Marion played checkers with perfect logic and an infallible memory, rarely making mistakes. Chinook played like a young arrogant master that was still maturing, occasionally making the type of mistakes that Marion might have made when he was a youth. Consequently, especially during the second half of the match, the Chinook team called upon special resources to make Chinook behave more like the machine. Here we see Jonathan Schaeffer's one year old daughter Rebecca fixing a serious bug in Chinook between games.

The match concluded on Saturday August 29 with Tinsley winning 4 games to 2 with 33 draws. At the conclusion of the final game, Marion jumped to his feet and amid thunderous, appreciative applause raised his arms in triumph and exclaimed "Three cheers for human beings - and that includes Jonathan".

Raymond Keene commenced the closing ceremonies by calling Steve Webb from Silicon Graphics to present the awards. Steve Webb presented Marion Tinsley with the Championship Trophy.

Next, Steve Webb presented Jonathan Schaeffer with the runner-up trophy.

Both Marion Tinsley and Jonathan Schaeffer gave acceptance speeches.

Following the conclusion of the closing ceremony. the Chinook team members assembled for a final group photograph. From left to right, they are: Paul Lu, Rob Lake, Jonathan Schaeffer, and Norman Treloar.

Here is a writeup from the Edmonton Journal about the match.


[University of Alberta]
University of Alberta
[Department of Computing Science]
Computing Science
[Chinook]
Chinook

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Last update: August 17, 1998