It still seems like it was yesterday, when Garri Kasparov lost the first game of chess to the computer “Deep Blue”. The internet was really still in its early stage, but already reached the boundaries of its capacities: In 1996, the millions of accesses per match via World Wide Web caused the servers of IBM to break down. Concerning the internet access, the Web was working over its capacity, but still did the huge machine of the hard- and software giant IBM win the first round of the competition. It was an historic moment, since Garri Kasparov, who was the world’s leading champion at that time, lost the first match to a computer. In the end, Kasparov won the contest with 4:2 points, even though the joy was only of short duration. One year later, IBM challenged him to compete against a new computing machine that was capable of calculating 200 million positions per minute – a remarkable performance considering the technological circumstances to that time. Kasparov was behind by one point and lost the match 3.5 : 2.5.
After this game, the international interest in this particular kind of competition decreased quickly. The industry no longer set up matches of man and machine and the parts of society without any knowing of this sport minded other things than chess. But still, the endless possibilities of the World Wide Web continuingly attracted enthusiastic fans: Less than ten years after the total breakdown if IBM’s servers during
the match of Kasparov and “Deep Blue”, thousands of professionals, ambitious hobby players, and fans were active on servers. Every day, people play and practice chess, but also follow live reports on matches without interruptions. Experts’ comments and later on audio- and video streams have been entertaining beginners, fans, and grandmasters.
The new era of Smartphones with its rapidly increasing mobility has created endless access, so that practically every player in this world can find opponents at his or her level of performance at any time and any place. The times of playing against fellow club members over and over again have passed. There is no more playing chess on Friday night meetings only. Nowadays, the flexibility of chess software is endless: No matter what day of the week or what time of the day, the many servers of the World Wide Web can be accessed via browser, software, or Smartphone and offer chess in a 24/7 rhythm.
Kasparov, by the way, was defeated by technological means again, when his own chess website kasparovchess.com went bankrupt in 2002, only two years after going online. Possibly, his ideas back then were ahead of time or his ambitions were simply not compatible with reality..
Written by Frank, translated by Birthe