When Did Chess Computers Seem Unbeatable?
World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen won't even play complete games against computers; what's the point?
Grandmaster and author Andrew Soltis told NPR that “Carlsen won't even play his computer. He uses it to train, to recommend moves for future competition. But he won't play it because he just loses all the time, and there's nothing more depressing than losing without even being in the game.”
As far as I know, the first reference to the idea that computers or robots would so far outclass human chess players, that even the best human players had no chance at all of winning, dates to 1951. In his story First He Died (Time and Again), Clifford Simak writes:
The man reached out a hand, thoughtfully played a knight. The robotic clicked and chuckled. It moved a pawn...
"Mr. Benton hasn't won a game in the past ten years..."
"... Benton must have known, when he had Oscar fabricated, that Oscar would beat him," Sutton pointed out. "A human simply can't beat a robotic expert."
The first references to chess-playing computers by scientists were made by Konrad Zuse in the early 1940's and by Alan Turing in 1945. Zuse reputedly wrote a chess program in the early 1940's using PlanKalkuel, the first high-level computer language (also created by Zuse). Claude Shannon described in 1949 how to program a computer for chess, proposing basic strategies for limiting the number of possibilities to be considered ("trimming the tree").
Science fiction writers were there first, though; see this reference to automaton chess player.
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