In Game 3 the computer lost because, being a computer, it has (for now) no imagination. Computers can outplay just about any human when the field is open, the pieces have mobility and there are millions of possible tactical combinations. Kasparov therefore steered Game 3 into a position that was utterly static -- a line of immobile pawns cutting across the board like the trenches of the First World War.
Neither side could cross into enemy territory. There was, ``thought'' Fritz, therefore nothing to do. It can see 20 moves deep, but even that staggering foresight yielded absolutely no plan of action. Like a World War I general, Fritz took to pacing up and down behind its lines.
Kasparov, on the other hand, had a deep strategic plan. Quietly and methodically, he used the bit of space he had on one side of the board to align his pieces, preparing for the push of a single pawn down the flank to queen -- and win.
Meanwhile, Fritz was reduced to shuffling pieces back and forth. At one point, it moved its bishop one square and then back again on the next move. No human would ever do that. Not just because it is a waste of two moves. It is simply too humiliating. It is an open declaration to your opponent that you have no idea what you're doing, and that maybe checkers is your game.
The observers loved it. ``This move showed that the computer doesn't feel any embarrassment,'' said grandmaster Gregory Kaidanov. It was a moment to savor. Eventually, sons of Fritz will feel embarrassment and much more -- why not: We are just cleverly arranged carbon and we feel -- but that's still centuries (decades?) away. In the meantime, Kasparov is showing that while we can't outcalculate machines, we can still outsmart them.
It even appears that we -- the best of us humans, that is -- will be able to hold our own for a while. That's victory enough. For now.
Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.
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