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Checkmate: How Computer Chess Changed the World

Saturday, June 1, 2013
7:30 pm - 10:00 pm

Not long ago, the idea of a computer beating a human at chess was the stuff of science fiction. But some of the most creative programmers of the 1980s and 90s were determined to make it a reality. And they did. In two matches that riveted the world, Deep Blue, the IBM supercomputer, took on the brilliant world chess champion Garry Kasparov, and finally the computer won. The program begins with a secret screening of a feature film that will have its New York premiere in June—a darkly comic, fictional take on those early programming efforts, which won the Alfred P. Sloan Prize at Sundance—and is followed by a fascinating discussion with some of the real-life programmers and chess masters involved in the epic match-up between man and machine.

Warning – The film includes some adult content: nudity and drug use.

This program is supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and its Public Understanding of Science and Technology initiatives. Presented in collaboration with the Museum of the Moving Image.


Steve MirskyWriter, Editor

Steve Mirsky has written the humorous Anti Gravity column for Scientific American since 1995 and is a member of the magazine’s board of editors. Since 2006 his primary responsibilities have been overseeing the magazine’s weekly podcast Science Talk and the daily podcast, 60-Second Science.

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Joel BenjaminChess Grandmaster

Joel Benjamin was hailed as a chess prodigy when he became a national master at the age of 13, breaking Bobby Fischer’s record for youngest-ever master. A three-time U.S. junior champion, he became a grandmaster in 1986.

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Murray CampbellComputer Scientist

Murray Campbell is a research scientist at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, NY. He was a member of the team that developed Deep Blue, the first computer to defeat the human world chess champion in a match.

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