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9 May 1997

If Deep Blue Beats World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov, Its Creators Will Be Eligible for Carnegie Mellon~s $100,000 Fredkin Prize

PITTSBURGH--If IBM's Deep Blue computer chess machine beats world chess champion Garry Kasparov over the weekend in New York, the team that developed it will be eligible for the $100,000 Fredkin Prize for Computer Chess.

The prize was established at Carnegie Mellon University 17 years ago by Massachusetts Institute of Technology Computer Science Professor Edward Fredkin to encourage continued research progress in computer chess.

The prize is three-tiered. The first award of $5,000 was given to two scientists from Bell Laboratories who in 1981 developed the first chess machine to achieve master status. The intermediate prize of $10,000 for the first chess machine to reach international master status was awarded in 1988 to five Carnegie Mellon graduate students who built Deep Thought, the precursor to Deep Blue, at the university. The $100,000 third tier of the prize is to be awarded to the first computer chess machine that beats the world chess champion.

"There has never been any doubt in my mind about whether this would happen, the question has been when," Fredkin said. "If Deep Blue wins this tournament, its creators will be eligible for this prize, which has been outstanding since 1980."

Carnegie Mellon~s history in computer chess dates back to the late 1950s when Nobel Laureate Herbert Simon and Allen Newell fathered the field of artificial intelligence by discovering that in addition to crunching numbers, computers could make meaning from symbols as well. They developed some computer chess programs, and in 1967 their work attracted Principal Research Computer Scientist Hans Berliner, who at that time was the world champion in correspondence chess.

Berliner came to Carnegie Mellon and studied for a doctorate in computer chess under Newell. In the early 1980s Berliner and his students developed Hitech, an artificially intelligent chess machine whose expertise lay in its pattern recognizing ability. Hitech began playing in organized competition in 1985. It was the first computer program to become a U.S. Chess Federation Senior Master and the first to beat a Grandmaster. Berliner says Hitech advanced into the top 0.5 of 1 percent of all ranked human players and is now about number 150 in the United States with a rating of 2413.

Deep Thought, a machine which relied on the speed of its specially designed computer chips, beat Hitech at an Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) tournament in 1988.

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