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The stage is set

The stage is set: An auditorium in IBM Research's headquarters in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., has been transformed into a stage for the IBM Jeopardy Challenge this weekend, which pits Jeopardy champions Brad Rutter (who holds the record for most money won on the game) and Ken Jennings (who won the most consecutive "Jeopardy" games) against Watson, a computer with the ability to process complex language queries.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Caroline McCarthy/CNET
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Filling the room

A host of print and broadcast press were on hand for a test match today between Jennings, Rutter, and Watson.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Caroline McCarthy/CNET
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John E. Kelly III

John E. Kelly III, IBM senior vice president and director of IBM Research, introduces Thursday's "Jeopardy" match.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Caroline McCarthy/CNET
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The room was mystified

The room was mystified by Watson's question-and-answer skills and how well he held up against two notoriously knowledge-packed and experienced game show contestants.

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David Ferrucci

David Ferrucci, the principal investigator of the Watson project at IBM Research, was in charge of building DeepQA, the technology that powers the computer.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Caroline McCarthy/CNET
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The champions and challenger

"Jeopardy" champions Ken Jennings (left) and Brad Rutter stand on either side of a video screen connected to the Watson computer, which is housed in a space underneath the auditorium.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Caroline McCarthy/CNET
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The test game

Jimmy McGuire, a "Jeopardy" crew member who handles the television show's rehearsal game, quizzes Jennings, Rutter, and Watson on topics as varied as female archaeologists and notable children's books.

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Alex Trebek joins the crew

"Jeopardy" host Alex Trebek (far left) with (from left) "Jeopardy" executive producer Harry Friedman, champions Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings, and IBM Research's David Ferrucci and John E. Kelly III.

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The robots defeated them

Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings were good-natured after failing to beat Watson the computer in a quick test match this morning--but the score was very close.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Caroline McCarthy/CNET
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Meet Watson

Underneath the auditorium where the IBM Jeopardy Challenge took place is Watson, the question-and-answer machine. Named for IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, the machine otherwise just looks like an innocuous data center.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Caroline McCarthy/CNET
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