Sore Loser

May 16 1997 3:30 AM

Sore Loser

Garry Kasparov owes Deep Blue an apology.

As we all know, Garry Kasparov is a Russian chess player. So where did he get this uncanny ability to whine exactly like an American pro athlete after an unexpected drubbing?


"The machine's win has not proved anything. It's not yet ready, in my opinion, to win a big contest."

That's Kasparov, explaining how Deep Blue's resounding victory did not really constitute a "big" win. The rangy, big-shouldered computer prevailed in the most famous man vs. machine chess match in history--3 1/2 points to 2 1/2 points--capped by a 19-move butt kicking that inspired one grandmaster to observe, "Kasparov got wiped off the board." Kasparov reacted by reaching deep into the sports-cliché moan bag, maintaining that he had been cheated by some kind of backdoor playmaking help from the IBM team, that the real Garry Kasparov hadn't shown up at the match ("I was not in a fighting mood"), and that his coaching had been bad ("my biggest mistake was following the advice of computer advisers who recommended I play this way").

What way? Losingly?

In addition, he talked about himself in the annoying "third-person jock," whimpered about Deep Blue's superior firepower (news flash, Garry: the other side usually demonstrates that when it beats you), and grumbled his way through a trash-talk version of "wait till next year." "It [had] nothing to do [with] science," he whined. "It was one zeal to beat Garry Kasparov. And when a big corporation with unlimited resources would like to do so, there are many ways to achieve the result."

Illustration by Mark Alan Stamaty

And: "I personally guarantee if the machine plays me again, I would tear it to pieces."

As IBM's Chung-Jen Tan, the leader of the Deep Blue team, recognized with his overwrought For the Ages rhetoric ("historically for mankind, this is like landing on the moon"), the match will go down in the permanent record of human-computer relations. Kasparov made us all look churlish, bratty, and just plain bad. We humans deserved a better spokesman at this epochal point in our ongoing voyage of humility; a half century from now, surly, street-tough androids will routinely start bar brawls over the bitchy tone of Kasparov's remarks. Yes, Kasparov had to be the guy on the front line--after all, he's the best human chess player of all time. Still, he left much to be desired in what Frank Deford would call "the class and grace department."

How much nicer it would have been if Kasparov had accepted his defeat with a few tactful words like, "You de man!" or, "You de machine!"

If Kasparov does get back onto the board with Deep Blue, he really must get it together deportmentwise. May I suggest that he seek role models in the world of checkers, a supremely challenging game (there are 500 billion billion possible positions on the checkerboard) that doesn't get the respect it deserves?

Checkers masters stared down their Armageddon a few years ago, when a powerful computer program named Chinook forged a tie with the second-best checkers player in the world, Don Lafferty. A weaker version of Chinook had previously lost to the legendary Marion Tinsley, a retired university math teacher considered the greatest checkers player of all time, who had to withdraw from a 1994 rematch because of the pancreatic cancer that eventually killed him. Lafferty bravely stepped in and duked out a record of 1-1-18. No clear decision.



Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?


Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
Oct. 20 2014 11:36 PM Forget Oculus Rift This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.