Finally, A Pc Grand Master With The Brain Of A Bobby Fischer?

Chess has long been held out as the ultimate test of computer smarts. Not even IBM's massive chess-playing mainframe, called Deep Thought, has been able to win matches against the world's top players. That's why the audience was astounded when, at a tournament sponsored by Intel Corp. in May, a PC beat several grand masters, including world champion Garri Kasparov. The victorious PC was powered by Intel's powerful new Pentium chip running the Fritz 3 chess program. "Everyone was flabbergasted," says Bob Rice, commissioner of the Professional Chess Assn. "There was a lot of hurt pride."

But humankind can take heart: The tournament's sudden- death format, which gives the players only five minutes to finish the game, may have favored the PC over its human competitors. And top-ranked Kasparov did manage to prevail over the machine in a best-of-six-games playoff by a comfortable 4-to-1 lead. Since the tournament, several chess masters have demanded a rematch, which could take place as soon as late this summer. But let them be forewarned: By then, Intel is likely to have a new, 100-megahertz version of the Pentium, a chip that will be at least 10% faster than the current model.

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