Political Animal

CHESS FINALE….Man vs. machine is

CHESS FINALE….Man vs. machine is over: Garry Kasparov offered a draw after the 28th move and it was accepted by the Deep Junior team. The final match score is 3-3.

The ESPN2 commentators were surprised, even shocked and “dissatisfied,” suggesting that Kasparov’s position was promising and he might have been able to eke out a win if he’d played it out. Their conclusion is that he was “spooked” by the computer and was just happy to get out alive.

There have been three world-class man vs. machine matches since 1997 and there have now been two ties and one win for the computer. What’s worse is that Deep Junior used no special hardware: it was a standard piece of software running on an Intel box, and it will only get better over time. At this point, no grandmaster has beaten the top-ranked computer program in the past six years, and my guess is that even a draw will become a thing of the past very soon.

POSTSCRIPT: Kasparov is being interviewed now and has basically admitted that the pressure of the previous five games was on his mind, as well as memories of his infamous meltdown in 1997 against Deep Blue. It was “more important not to lose” than it was to win, he said, and he has declared himself satisfied with the conclusion of the match.


SOME MINOR KVETCHING….Can I just take a moment to complain about something trivial? Thanks.

I’m about two-thirds of the way through What Liberal Media? and I’ve already counted an even dozen proofreading errors ? and that’s generous since I’m counting repeatedly misspelled names as only a single mistake. I might be wrong about this, but I could swear that 20 years ago I rarely found proofreading errors in books, while today it’s a common occurrence. Is this because (a) people are sloppier today than before, (b) publishers’ budgets have gone down and proofreading has suffered, or (c) I just notice it more than I used to?

UPDATE: Patrick Nielsen Hayden, who should know, writes to say, “I’ve been working in book publishing for two decades, and hanging around writers and editors even longer, and for as long as I can remember, everyone has claimed that books didn’t used to have lots of typos the way they do now. And yet, when I go back and look at routine trade hardcovers from thirty or forty years ago, what I find are: typos.” And reader Diana Waggoner agrees: “The answers to your question today about proofreading are (a), (b), AND (probably) (c).” So there you go.