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Mon 23 Apr 2001 04:00 AM

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Man vs Machine in Bahrain

Bahrain is set to be the latest venue in the showdown between man and machines, pitting the finest human minds against state of the art microprocessor technologies.

Bahrain is being tipped as the venue for the latest battle between man and intelligent machines. But Bahrainis need not fear – the battle will not be man versus Terminators or Matrix-style Agents, but the altogether more cerebral arena of chess.

The Emirate is set to be the latest venue for the Man vs Machine Challenge, the contest that pits the greatest chess players in the world against the cutting edge in chess computers. The last contest, held in 1997, saw Russian Grand Master Gary Kasparov lose to IBM’s Deep Blue super computer. This year’s competition, organised by UK company

Brain Games

, will see the mainframes replaced by desktop PCs, as the technology has progressed to allow much more powerful programs in smaller computers than the mainframes of previous contest.

Heats are currently underway to decide which AI chess computers will represent the machines in the contest. In humanity’s corner is twenty-four year old Russian Vladimir Kramnik. Kramnik beat his old teacher Kasparov in November last year, and his unpredictable style of play is being touted as the human’s best chance against the machines.

Kramnik has already scored one victory against the computers, beating Deep Junior, a portable little brother of Deep Blue, last year. Deep Junior based on an RS/6000, can consider up to 10 million chess positions per second, second only to Deep Blue’s 200 million positions per second.

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