The 1997 match between Kasparov and Deep Blue is likely the most famous chess match in history. This is because it was ground breaking - for the first time ever a computer had beaten the best player in the world.

The complete history of man versus machine contests is on Wikipedia, and it suggests that people lost interest after Kramnik lost 0-4-2 to deep fritz in 2006. Since 2007 or 2008, there has not been another serious match.

Is this just because computers are so much better now? What about odds matches? I know Rybka on a regular PC managed to draw a Grandmaster with white, where white was missing a rook, and black was missing a knight. Do people just find such matches boring?

Is there just no interest in watching a player such as Magnus Carlsen vs Rybka, or is it just that the players would never agree to it? (Or both)

3 Answers 3


There are a combination of answers to this question. I will answer in what is, in my opinion, descending importance.

  1. It's just boring now. Initially this was a case of human pride. A few decades ago it was a commonly held belief that no computer could ever perform at the master level or beat a grand master. It quickly became apparent that this was not the case. Due to the exponentially increasing power of computer hardware and sophistication of engine development grand master after grand master fell as systems went from needing to run on specialized hardware to beat a world class player to being able to run on a modern $1500 USD laptop. Notice that the rise of the Intel Core processor seems to fit with your time frame for lack of interest.

  2. In the developed world we have become accustomed to the fact that computers can out-perform humans in nearly any field and I think most people just accept the fact that narrow AI will eventually have a place in every field - even if most don't have the vocabulary to express the idea in that way. Narrow (or Weak) AI is artificial intelligence that has expert, human level ability in only a single thing, such as chess. Strong AI is the boogieman of the Terminator movies and the Matrix.

  3. Because of number 1 and number 2 there is no money in it. IBM put a lot of money into the Deep Thought/Deep Blue matches for PR reasons. Now it's Watson and language. And if there is no money, who's going to agree to play?

AI has moved on to driving cars and diagnosing cancer and heart disease. Chess was only ever just a stepping stone to more important things that can make money.

  • Even if "pure human plus pure machine" matches weren't interesting, I would think there would still be interest in "team" matches where each team would have a human captain who could use whatever combination of human and machine assistance he saw fit within an allotted time, at least if things haven't yet reached the stage where Black could always hold a draw. Do you think such matches would generally end up drawn, or is the problem simply lack of money/sponsorship?
    – supercat
    Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 22:37
  • @supercat: Advanced chess (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Chess) games have two teams, each consisting of one human + one computer, where the human is the captain. That sounds a little like what you are suggesting?
    – Mark Byers
    Commented May 8, 2015 at 14:20
  • @MarkByers: Sounds really cool. The main links from that Wiki page are dead, so I didn't see much information about how such tournaments generally go. How often do the games end up in anything other than a draw, and what is the usual nature of draws?
    – supercat
    Commented May 8, 2015 at 14:51

This is no more a challenge between Human & Computer . Man vs. Machine is over .

  • Earlier this was a curiosity . This was not only related to the field of Chess but People from other professions wanted to know who is better .

  • Playing against a top rated Computer somewhat seems lack of creativity . Computer mostly plays tactical and their opening repertoire is so vast that a Player needs to go out of the Box to think somewhat new and defeat it .

  • Now almost every Computer rates to almost 3000+ Elo which is almost 200 points higher than the World's best player . So mathematically it seems Computer will win but it may not happen always but surely it does not rouse the Interest .

When Kasparov got defeated in 1997 he was shaken and even putting up his Best play he could not repeat the same in 1996 . So from there the Chess World's verdict was that a Computer can be made stronger and can defeat anybody .


It's not true that there are no more exhibition games between humans and computers. There're no more serious games between humans and computers, on equal terms, from the starting position; but there are still exhibitions on unequal terms. Hikaru Nakamura is the highest-profile player willing to play against engines, and he's said he does so because he enjoys the challenge of trying to beat the machine.

Here're some examples:

Nakamura vs. Komodo 2016 (Komodo wins 2.5-1.5)

Nakamura vs. Komodo 2018 (Nakamura wins vs. all the lower-levels, loses against the top level; also includes three games against Komodo MCTS)

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave vs. Komodo

Some of the odds games are actually quite fun, and led to unique strategies. For example it's commonly known that when playing against computers, go for long-term positional duels; in some of the odds games though MVL was actively trying to open the position. The "knightmare" starting position is also one-of-a-kind, and only a computer can hope to play with the white pieces.

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