Chess Computer History

In 1945 Alan Turing (1912-1954) used chess-playing as an example of what a computer could do. Turing himself was a weak chess player.

In 1946 Alan Turing made his first reference to machine intelligence in connection with chess-playing.

In 1947, Alan Turing specified the first chess program for chess.

In 1948 the UNIVAC computer was advertised as the strongest computer in the world. So strong, that it could play chess and gin rummy so perfectly that no human opponent could beat it.

In 1948 Turing challenged Donald Michie to see who could first write a simple chess-playing algorithm.

In March, 1949 Claude Shannon (1916-2001) described how to program a computer and a Ferranti digital machine was programmed to solve mates in two moves. He proposed basic strategies for restricting the number of possibilities to be considered in a game of chess. Shannon was an avid chess player. He first proposed his idea of programming a computer for chess at the National Institute for Radio Engineers (IRE) Convention in New York.

In 1950, Alan Turing wrote the first computer chess program. The same year he proposed the Turing Test that in time, a computer could be programmed (such as playing chess) to acquire abilities rivaling human intelligence. If a human did not see the other human or computer during an imitation game such as chess, he/she would not know the difference between the human and the computer.

In 1950 Shannon devised a chess playing program that appeared in the paper "Programming a computer for playing chess" published in Philosophical Magazine, Series 7, Vol. 41 (No. 314, March 1950). This was the first article on computer chess.

In November 1951, Dr. Dietrich Prinz wrote the original chess playing program for the Manchester Ferranti computer. The program could solve simple mates in two moves.

In 1952 Alick Glennie, who wrote the first computer compiler, defeated Alan Turing's chess program, TurboChamp. He was the first person to beat a computer program at chess. Turing never finished his chess-playing program.

In 1953 Turing included an example of his chess program in action in chapter 25 (Digital Computers Applied to Games) of the book Faster than Thought by B. Bowden.

By 1956 experiments on a Univac MANIAC I computer (11,000 operations a second) at Los Alamos, using a 6x6 chessboard, was playing chess. This was the first documented account of a running chess program. It used a chess set without bishops. It took 12 minutes to search 4 moves deep. Adding the two bishops would have taken 3 hours to search 4 moves deep. MANIAC I had a memory of 600 words, storage of 80K, 11KHz speed, and had 2,400 vacuum tubes. The team that programmed MANIAC was led by Stan Ulam.

In 1957 a chess program was written by Alex Bernstein at MIT for an IBM 704. It could do 42,000 instructions per second and had a memory of 70 K. This was the first full-fledged game of chess by a computer. It did a 4-ply search in 8 minutes.

In 1957 Herbert Simon said that within 10 years, a digital computer would be the world's chess champion.

In 1958 the alpha-beta pruning algorithm for chess was discovered by three scientists at Carnegie-Mellon (Allen Newell, John Shaw, and Herbert Simon). Here is how it works. A computer evaluates a move and starts working on its second move. As soon a single line shows that it will return a lower value than the first move, it can terminate the search. You could now chop off large parts of the search tree without affecting the final results.

In 1958, a chess program (NSS) beat a human player for the first time. The human player was a secretary who was taught how to play chess one hour before her game with the computer. The computer program was played on an IBM 704. The computer displayed a level of chess-playing expertise greater than an adult human could gain from one hour of chess instruction.

In 1959 some of the first chess computer programmers predicted that a chess computer would be world chess champion before 1970.

In 1962 the first MIT chess program was written. It was the first chess program that played regular chess credibly. It was written by Alan Kotok for his B.S. thesis project, assisted by John McCarthy of Stanford. The program ran on an IBM 7090, looking at 1100 positions per second.

In 1963 world chess champion Botvinnik predicted that a Russian chess playing program would eventually defeat the World Champion.

In 1965 the Soviets designed a chess program developed at the Institute for Theoretical and Experimental Physics (ITEP) in Moscow. ITEP's programming team was led by Georgi Adelson-Velskiy.

On November 22, 1966 a USSR chess program began a correspondence match with the Kotok-McCarthy MIT chess program. The match lasted 9 months and was won by the Soviet computer, with 3 wins and 1 loss.

The first chess computer to play in a tournament was MAC HACK VI (DEC PDP-6) written at MIT in assembly language (MIDAS) by Richard Greenblatt. The computer entered the 1966 Massachusetts Amateur championship, scoring 1 draw and 4 losses for a USCF rating of 1243.

In the spring of 1967, MacHACK VI became the first program to beat a human (1510 USCF rating), at the Massachusetts State Championship. By the end of the year, it had played in four chess tournaments. It won 3 games, lost 12, and drew 3. In 1967 MacHACK VI was made an honorary member of the US Chess Federation. The MAC HACK program was the first widely distributed chess program, running on many of the PDP machines. It was also the first to have an opening chess book programmed with it.

In 1968 International Master David Levy made a $3,000 bet that no chess computer would beat him in 10 years. He won his bet. The original bet was with John McCarthy, a distinguished researcher in Artificial Intelligence at Stanford. The bet was made at the 1968 Machine Intelligence Workshop in Edinburgh University.

In 1970 the first all-computer championship was held in New York and won by CHESS 3.0 (CDC 6400), a program written by Slate, Atkin and Gorlen at Northwestern University. Six programs had entered the first Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) North American Computer Championships. The event was organized by Monty Newborn. The other programs were DALY CP, J Brit, COKO III, SCHACH, and the Marsland CP.

In 1971 the Institute of Control Science, Moscow, created KAISSA using a British computer to play chess.

In 1971 Ken Thompson wrote his first chess-playing program.

In 1971 CHESS 3.5 wins the 2nd ACM computer championship, held in Chicago.

In 1972 CHESS 3.6 wins the 3rd ACM computer championship, held in Boston.

In 1973 CHESS 4.0 wins the 4th ACM computer championship, held in Atlanta.

In 1974 World Correspondence Champion Hans Berliner wrote his PhD dissertation on "Chess Computers as Problem Solving."

In 1974 KAISSA (ICL 4/70) won the first world computer chess championship, held in Stockholm with a perfect 4-0 score. It was programmed by Donskoy and Arlazarov. 2nd place went to CHESS 4.0

In 1974 RIBBIT wins the 5th ACM computer championship, held in San Diego.

In 1975 Grandmaster David Bronstein used the endgame database in KAISSA to win an adjourned game in a tournament in Vilnius.

In 1975 CHESS 4.4 wins the 6th ACM computer championship, held in Minneapolis.

In 1976 CHESS 4.5 won the Class B section of the Paul Masson tournament in Northern California. The performance rating was 1950.

In 1976 a computer program was used to make the chess pairings at the chess Olympiad in Haifa.

In 1976 CHESS 4.5 wins the 7th ACM computer championship, held in Houston.

By 1976 all legal moves of castling were established by a chess computer.

In 1977 the first microcomputer chess playing machine, CHESS CHALLENGER, was created. The International Computer Chess Association (ICCA) was founded by computer chess programmers. It has about 400 members.

In 1977 CHESS 4.5 won the Minnesota Open winning 5 games and losing one. It had a performance rating of 2271. Stenberg (1969) became the first Class A player to lose to a computer.

In 1977 SNEAKY PETE was the first chess computer to play in a U.S. Open, held in Columbus, Ohio.

In 1977 Michael Stean became the first grandmaster to lose to a computer; it was a blitz game.

In 1977, BELLE was the first computer system to use custom design chips to increase its playing strength. It increased its search speed from 200 positions per second to 160,000 positions per second (8 ply). Over 1,700 integrated circuits were used to construct BELLE. The chess computer was built by Ken Thompson. The program was later used to solve endgame problems. The cost of BELLE was $20,000.

In 1977 CHESS 4.6 wins the 8th ACM computer championship, held in Seattle.

In 1977 CHESS 4.6 won the 2nd world computer championship, held in Toronto.

In 1977 the International Computer Chess Association was founded.

In 1977 David Levy played his first computer, KAISSA, as part of his bet. He won.

In 1978 SARGON won the first tournament for microcomputers, held in San Jose. David Levy collected his 10 year bet by defeating CHESS 4.7 in Toronto with the score of 3 wins and one draw. The drawn game was the first time a computer drew an international master. Computer chess experts predicted that a computer would be world chess champion in 10 years.

In 1978 BELLE wins the 9th ACM computer championship, held in Washington, DC.

In 1968 David Levy defeated MacHack in 2 games.

In 1979 CHESS 4.9 wins the 10th ACM computer championship, held in Detroit.

In 1980 CHAMPION SENSORY CHALLENGER won the first world microcomputer championship, held in London.

In 1980, Edward Fredkin created the Fredkin Prize for Computer Chess. The award came with $100,000 for the first program to beat a reigning world chess champion.

In 1980 BELLE wins the 11th ACM computer championship, held in Nashville.

In 1980 BELLE won the 3rd world computer championship, held in Linz.

In 1981 CRAY BLITZ won the Mississippi State Championship with a perfect 5-0 score and a performance rating of 2258. In round 4 it defeated Joe Sentef (2262) to become the first computer to beat a master in tournament play and the first computer to gain a master rating (2258).

In 1981 BELLE wins the 12th ACM computer championship, held in Los Angeles.

In 1982 BELLE was confiscated by the State Department as it was heading to the Soviet Union to participate in a computer chess tournament. The State Department claimed it was a violation of a technology transfer law to ship a high technology computer to a foreign country. BELLE later played in the U.S. Open speed championship and took 2nd place.

By 1982 computer chess companies were topping $100 million in sales.

In 1982 BELLE wins the 13th ACM computer championship, held in Dallas.

In 1983, the first chess microcomputer beat a master in tournament play. BELLE became the first chess computer to attain a master's rating when, in October, 1983, its USCF rating was 2203.

In 1983 CRAY BLITZ won the 4th world computer championship, held in New York.

In 1984 a microcomputer won a tournament for the first time against mainframes, held in Canada.

In 1984 CRAY BLITZ won the ACM computer championship in San Francisco.

In 1985 HITECH achieved a performance rating of 2530. It was the first computer to have a rating over 2400.

In 1985 Kasparov played 15 of the top chess computers in Hamburg, Germany and won every game, with the score of 32-0.

In 1985 HITECH won the ACM computer championship in Denver.

In 1986 BELLE won the ACM computer championship in Dallas.

In 1986 CRAY BLITZ won the 5th world computer championship, held in Cologne.

In 1987 the U.S. Amateur Championship became the first national championship to be directed by a computer program.

In 1987 CHIPTEST-M won the ACM computer championship in Dallas.

In 1988 DEEP THOUGHT and Grandmaster Tony Miles shared first place in the U.S. Open championship. DEEP THOUGHT had a 2745 performance rating.

In 1988 HITECH won the Pennsylvania State Chess Championship after defeating International Master Ed Formanek (2485). HITECH defeated Grandmaster Arnold Denker in a match. HITECH became the first chess computer to rated Grandmaster strength.

In 1988 Grandmaster Bent Larsen became the first GM to lose to a computer in a major tournament - the American Open.

In 1988 DEEP THOUGHT won the ACM championship in Orlando.

In November 1988, DEEP THOUGHT had a rating of 2550.

In 1989 DEEP THOUGHT won the 6th world computer championship in Edmonton, with a 5-0 score. DEEP THOUGHT defeated Grandmaster Robert Byrne in a match game. DEEP THOUGHT can analyze 2 million positions a second. In March 1989, Garry Kasparov defeated Deep Thought in a match by winning 2 games. Deep Thought easily beat International Master David Levy in a match with 4 wins. Deep Thought Developers claimed a computer would be world chess champion in three years.

In 1989 the first Computer Chess Olympiad was held in London.

In 1989 IBM started working on 'Big Blue' and later Deep Blue.

In 1989 HITECH won the ACM championship in Reno.

In 1990 World Champion Anatoly Karpov lost to MEPHISTO in a simultaneous exhibition in Munich. MEPHISTO also beat grandmasters Robert Huebner and David Bronstein. MEPHISTO won the German blitz championship and earned an International Master norm by scoring 7-4 in the Dortmund Open.

In 1992 Kasparov played Fritz 2 in a 5 minute game match in Cologne, Germany. Kasparov won the match with 6 wins, 1 draw, and 4 losses. This was the first time a program defeated a world champion at speed chess.

In March, 1993 GM Judit Polgar lost to Deep Thought in a 30 minute game.

In 1994 WCHESS became the first computer to outperform grandmasters at the Harvard Cup in Boston.

In 1994 Kasparov lost to Fritz 3 in Munich in a blitz tournament. The program also defeated Anand, Short, Gelfand, and Kramnik. Grandmaster Robert Huebner refused to play it and lost on forfeit, the first time a GM has forfeited to a computer. Kasparov played a second match with Fritz 3, and won with 4 wins, 2 draws, and no losses.

At the 1994 Intel Speed Chess Grand Prix in London, Kasparov lost to Chess Genius 2.95 in a 25 minute game. This eliminated Kasparov from the tournament.

The 13th World Micro Computer Chess Championship (WMCCC) was held in Paderborn, Germany in October, 1995. It was won by MChess Pro 5.0 (by Marty Hirsch) after a playoff with Chess Genius (by Richard Lang).

The 8th World Computer Chess Championships were held in May, 1995 in Hong Kong. The event was won by Fritz, after it won a playoff game against StarSocrates.

In November 1995, Kasparov beat Fritz 4 in London with a win and a draw. He then played Genius 3.0 in Cologne and won the match with one win and one draw.

The 6th Harvard Cup Human Versus Computer chess challenge was held in New York in December, 1995. The Grandmasters won with a score of 23.5 to the computers 12.5 score. The computers scored 35%, a slight decrease in performance from 1994. Joel Benjamin and Michael Rohde had the best human scores with 4.5 out of 6. The best machine was Virtual Chess (I-Motion Interactive) with 3.5 out of 6.

In February 1996, Garry Kasparov beat IBM's DEEP BLUE chess computer 4-2 in Philadelphia. Deep Blue won the first game, becoming the first computer ever to beat a world chess champion at tournament level under serious tournament conditions. Deep Blue was calculating 50 billion positions every 3 minutes. Kasparov was calculating 10 positions every 3 minutes. DEEP BLUE had 200 processors.

The 11th AEGON Computer Chess Tournament (Mankind vs. Machine) was held on April 10-17, 1996 in The Hague, Netherlands. There were 50 masters, International Masters, and Grandmasters and 50 computers (most playing on HP Pentium-166 machines with 16MB of RAM). Yasser Seirawan won the event with 6 straight wins and no losses. The best computer was QUEST, with 4.5/6 and a 2652 performance rating. The machines won with 162.5 points versus the humans with 137.5 points.

The 14th World Microcomputer chess championship was held in Jakarta in October, 1996. It was won by SHREDDER, followed by FERRET.

On May 11 1997, DEEP BLUE defeated Garry Kasparov in a 6 game match held in New York. This was the first time a computer defeated a reigning world champion in a classical chess match. DEEP BLUE had 30 IBM RS-6000 SP processors coupled to 480 chess chips. It could evaluate 200 million moves per second.

In November, 1997 Junior won the 15th World Micro Computer Championship. The event was held in Paris.

In 1997, the Allen Newell Medal for Research Excellence went to several people involved in computer chess. Ken Thompson and Joe Condon won for their pioneering work on Belle, the first master in 1983. Richard Greenblatt won for having developed MacHack VI in 1967, the first Class C chess computer. Lawrence Atkin and David Slate won for developing CHESS 4.7, the first Class B and first Expert chess computer from 1970 to 1978. Murray Campbell, Carl Ebeling, and Gordon Goetsch won for developing Hitech, the first Senior Master computer in 1988. Hans Berliner won for all his work in computer chess. Feng Hsu won for developing Deep Thought, the first chess computer that performed at a Grandmaster level in 1988. Thomas Anantharaman, Michael Browne, Murray Campbell, and Andreas Nowatzyk won for their work on Deep Thought in 1997. Murray Campbell, A. Joseph Hoane, Jr, and Feng Hsu won for their work on Deep Blue which defeated Garry Kasparov in 1997.

In 1997 the $100,000 Fredkin Award went to the inventors of Deep Blue - Feng Hsu, Murray Campbell, and Joseph Hoane, of IBM. Their program defeat Kasparov.

The 9th World Computer Championship was held in Paderborn, Germany from June 14, 1999 to June 19, 1999. The winner was Shredder. This was also the 16th World Microcomputer Chess Championship, won by Shredder.

In 1999 the highest rated chess computer is Hiarcs 7.0, followed by Fritz 5.32, Fritz 5.0, Junior 5.0, Nimzo 98, Hiarcs 6.0, Rebel 9.0, MChess Pro 7.1, Rebel 8.0, and MChess Pro 6.0 (based on SSDF ratings as of Jan 28, 1999).

In August 2000, Deep Junior took part in the Super-Grandmaster tournament in Dortmund. It scored 50 percent and a performance rating of 2703.

In 2000 the 17th World Microcomputer Chess Championship was held in London. It was won by Shredder.

In August, 2001, Deep Junior won the World Micro Computer Championship. The event was held in the Netherlands.

From May 13 to May 18, 2002, a match between Grandmaster Mikhail Gurevich and Junior 7 was held in Greece. Junior won with 3 wins and 1 draw.

On July 6-11, 2002, the 10th World Computer Championship was held in Maastricht, Netherlands. The winner was Deep Junior after a playoff with Shredder.

In October, 2002, Kramnik drew a match with Deep Fritz in Bahrain with a 4-4 score. Kramnik won games 2 and 3. Deep Fritz won games 5 and 6. The rest of the games (1, 7, and 8) were drawn.

From January 26 to February 7, 2003, Kasparov played Deep Junior 7 in New York. The match ended in a draw. Kasparov won game 1. Deep Junior won game 3. The rest of the games (games 2, 4, 5, and 6) were drawn. This was the first time that a man/machine competition was sanctioned by FIDE, the World Chess Federation. Deep Junior took 10 years to program by Tel Aviv programmers Amir Ban and Shay Bushinksy. It can evaluate 3 million moves a second, and positions 15 moves deep.

On November 11-18, 2003, Kasparov played X3dFritz in New York. The match was tied 2-2. Fritz won the 2nd game. Kasparov won the 3rd game. Games 1 and 4 were drawn. It was the first official world chess championship in total virtual reality, played in 3-D.

The 11th World Computer Chess Championship was held in Graz from November 22 to November 30, 2003. It was won by Shredder after a play-off with Deep Fritz. 3rd place went to Brutus, which evolved into Hydra.

In 2003 the top chess computers were Shredder 7.04 (2810), Shredder 7.0 (2770), Fritz 8.0 (2762), Deep Fritz 7.0 (2761), Fritz 7.0 (2742), Shredder 6.0 (2724), and Chess Tiger 15.0 (2720).

The 12th World Computer Chess Championship was held at Bar-llan University in Ramat-Gan, Israel from July 4 to July 12, 2004. It was won by Deep Junior (programmed by Amir Ban and Shay Bushinsky). Shredder took 2nd place, followed by Diep. Shredder won the 12th World Computer Speed Chess Championship. Crafty took 2nd place.

In 2004, Hydra defeated GM Evgeny Vladimirov with 3 wins and 1 draw. It then defeated former FIDE world champion Ruslan Ponomariov (rated 2710) in a 2-game match, winning both games.

In June, 2005, Hydra beat Michael Adams, the 7th ranked chess player in the world. Hydra won 5 games and drew one game.

The 13th World Computer Chess Championship was held at Reykjavik University in Iceland from August 13 to August 21, 2005. It was won by Zappa (programmed by Anthony Cozzie). 2nd place went to Fruit. Shredder won the speed championship, followed by Zappa.

In 2005, a team of computers (Hydra, Deep Junior, and Fritz) beat Vesilin Topalov, Ruslan Ponomariov, and Sergey Karjakin (average rating 2681) in a match by the score of 8.5 to 3.5.

The 14th World Computer Chess Championship was held in Turin, Italy from May 24 through June 1, 2006. It was won by Junior, rated at 2800, with a score of 9 out of 11. 2nd place went to Shredder (2810), followed by Rajlich (2820).

In December, 2006, world champion Vladimir Kramnik was defeated by Deep Fritz, which won with a 4-2 score (2 wins and 4 draws).

The 15th World Computer Chess Championship was held in June, 2007, in Amsterdam and sponsored by the International Computer Games Association (ICGA). The winner was the USA program Rybka ("little fish"), programmed by International Master Vasik Rajlich, with a score of 10 out of 11 (defeating Shredder in the last round). 2nd place went to the USA program Zappa, programmed by Anthony Cozziem with 9 points. 3rd place went to Loop, with 7.5 points. Defending champion Junior, nor Fritz, did not participate. The German program Shredder won the blitz world championship.

In June, 2007, the "Ultimate Computer Challenge" was held in Elista. Deep Junior defeated Deep Fritz with the score of 4-2 (2 wins, 4 draws).

In August, 2007, Grandmaster Joel Benjamin played a match with Rybka in which Rybka played without one of its pawns (pawn odds). Rybka won the match 4.5 - 3.5 (2 wins, 1 loss, 5 draws for Rybka).

In December, 2007, Hiarcs won over tie breaks against Rybka, with a score of 5.5 out of 7 at the 17th International Paderborn Computer Chess Championship.

In January, 2008, Rybka defeated GM Joel Benjamin with a 6-2 score. Joel had White in every game. Also, every draw was scored as a win for Benjamin.

In March, 2008, Rybka and Dzindzichashvili drew 4-4 in their match. Rybka won 2, lost 2, with 4 draws. Dzindzichashvili had White every game and Rybka played without one of its pawns in every game.

The 16th World Computer Chess Championship was held in Beijing, China in September, 2008 and won by Rybka, followed by Hiarcs and Junior.

The 17th World Computer Chess Championship was held in Pamplona, Spain in May, 2009 and won by Rybka, followed by a 3-ways tie for 2nd between Shredder, Junior, and Deep Sjeng.

In 2009, Pocket Fritz 4 won the Copa Mercosur chess tournament with a 9.5 out of 10 score.

The 18th World Computer Chess Championship was held in Kanazawa, Japan in 2010 and won by Rybka, followed by Rondo and Thinker.  The blitz tournament was also won by Rybka with 8/9 score.

From 2010, a new tournament was introduced, called the World Chess Software Championship.  All chess programs had to run on machines with identical hardware specifications.  The winner for 2010 was Shredder.

Rybka won the 30th Dutch Computer Chess Championship in Leiden, followed by Spike, Deep Sjeng and Hiarcs.

In June, 2011, the International Computer Games Association (ICGA) stripped Rybka of all its World Computer Chess Championship titles after discovering that Vasik Rajlicj, who programmed Rybka, incorporated and plagiarized elements of older programs (Crafty and Fruit), without attribution.  Rajlicj violated the rule that each program must be the original work of the entering developers.  Programming teams whose code from others must name all other authors, or the source of such code, in their submission details.

In 2006, the program “Rajlich” took 2nd-3rd place in the world computer chess championship.  That has now been annulled.  2nd place now goes to Shredder and 3rd place goes to Zappa.

The 1st places and World Computer Chess Champion titles that was awarded to the program Rybka from 2007 through 2010 are all annulled,  The revised titles are: 2007 – Zappa (World Champion); 2008 – Hiarcs (World Champion); 2009 – Junior, Shredder, and Deep Sjeng (Joint World Champions); 2010 – Rondo and Thinker (Joint World Champions.