Screams lead police to chess loser


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Failure is the only way to win.

How about a nice game of chess?

(Incidentally, not that it matters in this guy’s case, how do contemporary chess agents of the sort you’d run on a normal PC, stack up to humans these days? Is crushing humans still something that requires a supercomputer being carefully coached by a team of IBM experts, or are home-PC chess agents actually alarmingly effective against all but the elite of human competition?)

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Adjusting the difficulty level of most chess programs is all most chess players need to do to suffer a string of defeats. Supercomputers are only required for defeating Superhumans.

That’s why I always loved playing Battle Chess. Even if you’re losing, you still get the funny little animations.

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Respondent was admitted to suspect’s home at 1:15 a.m., and asked about sounds of screams coming from suspect’s apartment. Suspect claimed that he had been screaming in frustration because of poor play vs. computer chess game. Respondent asked to see game history and suspect granted permission. Respondent observed that suspect had

  1. castled queen-side after 20th move
  2. missed en passant capture of Black’s c-file pawn
  3. developed bishops before knights in seven of previous eight games
  4. habitually doubled pawns
  5. opened at least one game with 1. Na3 (note: suspect is not Robert Durkin)

Respondent became physically ill and vomited in the bathroom. Respondent then took custody of suspect and conveyed him to County General Hospital for mental health examination and involuntary 72-hour hold. Suspect’s chess paraphernalia was seized for its own protection and transferred to county Social Service Agency for placement in foster homes.


I haven’t played chess against a computer in years, but if you really want a challenge, there’s always the microscope puzzle at the end of The 7th Guest. It was annoying when the game came out, but on modern computers that thing is ridiculous. I’d assume chess programs have had a similar boost.

It’s actually kind of a tricky question to answer, but if you imagine a very skilled amateur human player who has never before played a computer, then the answer is that the $50 program running on the typical PC has been reliably beating that human since the early 80s.

Interestingly enough, skilled humans have gotten better at beating off-the-shelf computer chess software over the years, by learning in our baroque human ways how to move the computer “off-book” and into tricky-to-brute-force-analyze board positions. Playing this way against another human would usually be silly, or at least extremely annoying. But because a lot of humans learn chess vs. their computers, you have the weird situation where they get to the point where they can reliably beat their iPad, only to enter a tournament and be beaten easily by an older human, who would in turn lose to the iPad because s/he had no anti-computer strategies.

Of course, if you give a computer a large enough library, its opponent’s entire match history, and a cloud full of processing power, the human is still going to lose, like we have been since 1997.

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Well, I know someone who had the police visit him because he was also screaming loudly. While making a cake. Alone in his apartment.

Apparently the cake making was not going well.

[quote]February 10, 1996: first win by computer against top human.

November 21, 2005: last win by human against top computer.[/quote]

EDIT: this post was intended as a reply to @fuzzyfungus 's question


[after playing out all possible outcomes for Global Thermonuclear War]

Joshua: Greetings, Professor Falken.

Stephen Falken: Hello, Joshua.

Joshua: A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?

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