When Garry Kasparov
took on IBM's Deep Blue computer system in a six-game chess match.
Kasparov ended up losing by two wins to one, with three draws, but I was
fascinated all the same. The ads for "Jeopardy! The IBM Challenge" have
been clever and have added some excitement to something I was already
looking forward to anyhow.
If you weren't aware, IBM has been working on a program named Watson. It
is supposed to be able to play a game of Jeopardy! Against human
competitors. It would need to be able to take the clue, parse it
properly, picking up on slang, word play and then to find the meat of
the clue, figure out the response, and ring in...all before the humans
Over a three game match, the winner will scoop a million dollar prize.
Second gets $300,000 and third wins $200,000. If Watson wins, the entire
sum will go to charity. If a human wins, half goes right into his
pocket, and half goes to one of three deserving charities. There is no
doubt that Ken Jennings should be in this exhibition match, having won
74 games, as well as placing second in the Ultimate Tournament of
Champions. Brad Rutter, who defeated him in that match, as well as
winning a Tournament of Champions and the Masters Tournament, is also a
qualified choice. But is he the best? The most deserving?
Sure, he won his Tournament of Champions, which is more than you could
say for Frank Spangenberg, whose five-day mark has remained unbeaten
twenty years later. But Brad won against a field that was unmemorable
and undistinguished. Three million dollars of Brad's winnings have come
from special/invitational tournaments, and many other players haven't
been able to compete in those events, either from not having a high
enough total, or not being memorable enough, or in Brad's case, not
being a recent enough winner.
I think this was a missed opportunity on the part of Jeopardy! If I were
in charge of the world, I would invite back six of the top winning
players (Jennings and Rutter included, along with just about any four
players from your rogue's gallery of winners) and had them each play a
two-game match to see who would take on Watson for the money and the
But I'm not, and they didn't, and essentially we get a rematch of the
Ultimate Tournament of Champions, except Jerome Vered was swapped for a
computer. All the same, I plan to watch, and I hope you do too.
Travis Eberle very nearly made an unkind joke at Jerome's expense.
Give him a piece of your mind at firstname.lastname@example.org.