Supercomputer slays U.K.'s top chess player

Chess grandmaster comes in a distant second to Hydra, in the latest clash of human versus machine. Photos: Grandmaster crushed

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U.K. chess grandmaster Michael Adams has been soundly beaten in his titanic struggle against Hydra, a supercomputer.

Adams, the U.K.'s top chess player, lost five out of six games, and only managed a single draw at London's Wembley Centre.

The battle, which ended this week, had been hyped as a clash between human and machine, yet during the games Hydra only used 32 out of the 64 PCs in its cluster. Based in Abu Dhabi, Hydra's PCs are each powered by a 3.06GHz Intel Xeon processor.

Whereas a decade ago Gary Kasparov only narrowly lost to IBM's Deep Blue, advances in technology and programming have made the aptly named Hydra a beast to be reckoned with.

According to the team that developed Hydra, it can calculate 200 million moves per second, and look up to 40 moves ahead. Adams was at a disadvantage, as he was estimate to only be able to calculate 1.4 moves per second, and look up to seven or eight moves in advance.

However, when asked in a Chessbase interview whether Adams thought his battle was conclusive proof of where the power now lies, he responded, "Well, I don't think you can get a conclusive proof after one match. My own impression of Hydra was that it played well, but I am sure we will see more of Hydra's games against other top players."

Tom Espiner of ZDNet UK reported from London.

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