By LAURIE COPANS, Associated Press - Mon Jan 6,10:29 AM ET
The world's top-ranked chess player, Garry Kasparov, has canceled plans to
travel to Israel to face off for the first time against his computer
counterpart, the Israeli-developed Deep Junior, officials said Monday. Chess
fans waiting to see who is best at the game, man or machine, will have to wait
until the end of January when Kasparov and Deep Junior are slated to play each
other in New York City. Kasparov had wanted to play the 2002 world champion
computer program in two games in Israel this week as a warm-up to the New York
match and to express solidarity with the country that has been embroiled in
fighting with the Palestinians for 27 months.
But Kasparov will not be traveling to Israel due to threats by an Israeli bank
to take legal action against him after a startup he was involved with,
Kasparov Chess Online, failed to repay a US$1.6 million loan, said Kasparov's
agent, Oren Williams. Kasparov was not involved in the request for a loan by
the Israeli partners of the company, Williams said.
Shay Bushinsky, one of the developers of Deep Junior, said he was disappointed
the first game between the program and Kasparov wouldn't be played in Israel.
"This is a big deal in terms of best human versus best computer in the game of
chess," Bushinsky said Monday. "We still want to play against him and show him
how great an artificial brain can be."
Bushinsky and another Israeli, Amir Ban, developed the computer program ten
years ago and it has proven itself since its first world debut in 1995,
winning three world championships against other computers.
As computer whizzes, Bushinsky and Ban felt they didn't know enough about the
game, so called in Israeli chess grandmaster, Boris Alterman, to help them
develop the computer version, Bushinsky said. Kasparov was world chess
champion for 16 years, but lost to the world computer champion in 1997, IBM's
Deep Blue. His match against Deep Junior will be his first public game against
a computer since then.
IBM later canceled and dismantled the Deep Blue project. Deep refers to the
use of multiprocessors.
World Champion Vladimir Kramnik tied in a match in Bahrain last year against
the computer program Deep Fritz, which can analyze 3 million moves a second.
Kramnik had beat Kasparov in a match in 2000