Game Over is coming to America

   On May 31st, THINKFilm will be releasing Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine on DVD across the United States. Game Over is a feature documentary from Academy Award winning produce Vikram Jayanti chronicling the 1997 chess match between Garry Kasparov and the IBM’s Super computer, Deep Blue. The Film has received acclaim throughout the film industry and its critics. In 2003, it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was nominated in the Best Feature Documentary category by the Independent Documentary Association.  It will be available to consumers through many channels to purchase; however, we would like to note that Game Over will be spearheading the launch of, a new division of THINKFilm, LLC.

   No match has sparked such great interest except for the Spassky vs. Fischer match in 1972. This documentary about the match states its position early. The movie opens up with whispers of conspiracy and flashes of the Turk, the first mechanical chess-playing machine. The secret of the Turk is now well known. It had a very good human chess player hidden inside the cabinet.  This documentary brings Garry Kasparov back to the scene of the crime. Kasparov is still deeply pained by this experience.  After all, it was his first match loss. It placed the first blemish on his impeccable chess career. It was not a happy time when Garry played this timeless, faceless monster. The movie touches briefly on Garry Kasparov’s meteoric rise through the Soviet Chess World. 

    We hear from the Deep Blue team of Feng Hsu who created the hardware, Joel Benjamin the American who taught Deep Blue how to play like a GM in closed positions. Murray Campbell introduces us to half of the Deep Blue RS 6000 processors, which is stored at a warehouse in New York; the other half is in the Smithsonian. We hear from the Kasparov team of MIG, Fred Freidel, and Owen Williams, Garry’s agent.  The Kasparov team was very suspicious of the entire pentagon like security regarding the match, suspicious of Deep Blue, and also suspicious by the change in the relationship between Kasparov and IBM. As Yassar Seirawan says, IBM and Garry were friends during the 1996 match, however this had changed in 1997. It was clear that IBM was out to get Garry Kasparov.  IBM had other purposes.  Kasparov felt he had played into IBM hands. IBM was the sponsor, the host, the financer, the controller, and the player.

   After a great Kasparov victory in game one, Garry was suspicious. The machine played like a machine. After one year of development, Deep Blue should be much stronger. The Deep Blue team was unfazed by the loss in game one. It would give Deep Blue a cocktail. Game two would be quite different; the computer played like a true strong GM. Deep Blue would defeat Kasparov. Garry was deeply suspicious of this loss; he did not understand why the computer played like a very strong GM. Garry grew more suspicious when he found out that Deep Blue had blundered in game 2.  Garry had missed his chance to draw the game. Garry could not understand why Deep Blue would make a move that would have allowed Garry to draw the 2nd game by repetition. Garry would make demands for the computer logs of the game. Games three, four and five would end in hard fought draws. Kasparov would accuse the Deep Blue team of cheating. 

     Joel Benjamin called it just prior to game six, that Garry Kasparov was a shot chess player. He would not recover.  Kasparov also admits that he could not recover from his game two loss. The pressure got so great, that Kasparov almost quit the match before game 4. An exhausted Garry Kasparov lost game six, without much of a fight. Deep Blue never got out of its opening book. It was a tragic end to a great match. I liken game 6 to Tyson biting off Hollyfield’s ear during their boxing match. Was the match on the up and up? The Deep Blue team says so. However the Kasparov team thinks other wise. IBM stock rose 15% upon its victory over Kasparov. IBM sales were reenergized.  IBM got great publicity for defeating Garry Kasparov. Garry wanted a rematch, but IBM refused.

   Garry went on to lose his title to Vladimir Kramnik in 2000. However Kasparov feels he still has much to accomplish. He wants to regain the world title. He wants to take advantage of opportunities to make a come back. He wants to reestablish his excellence. He wants to keep going and play well. It makes him feel good.

      This was a very interesting movie. I enjoyed the interviews of the various members of each team, as well as neutral parties. The documentary had interesting footage of the post game and match press conferences.  I wish they had more optional DVD scene features. I would have like to have seen extra footage that went over each of the games. I would also have like to have heard from the other Grandmasters who were on the IBM team, such as John Fedorowicz, Miguel Illescas, Nick Defirmian. I would also like to have heard form the arbiter Carol Jarecki and the appeals committee.  I really enjoyed this movie. I would like to see more video content of match play, like the world championship matches. I give this DVD 4 out of 5 stars.


Behind Deep Blue by Feng Hsu

Feng Hsu Interview on ICC