Friday, June 24, 2005

Why's it Always "Ultimate" when it's Man v. Machine?

Sigh. Chessbase is excitedly bleating about Accoona's Ultimate “Man vs. Machine” Chess Match. Let's run down this title, shall we?

Accoona: What exactly is Accoona, you are wondering? Well, it looks to be a cheap Google knockoff. They even go after the same style, though on the few experimental searches I did, Accoona disappointed greatly. So a second-rate search engine company with no original formatting at all is going to sponsor the Ultimate “Man vs. Machine” Chess Match? Yeah, I thought it sounded dumb too.

Ultimate: Words do mean things, and the word "ultimate" conveys a sense of finality, an unconquerable bastion of quality and savagery mixed into one in such a way nothing else could ever come close. Since this is a so-called "Man v. Machine" match -- the Ultimate one at that -- you would reasonably expect the best of the best humans to take on the best of the best computers. We all know that computers don't really play chess, but that's neither here nor there.

Man: So, who's the "man"? Is it Kasparov? Anand? That could make this match "Ultimate." Is it Topalov? Leko? Kramnik? Anyone in the FIDE top ten? Top 15? Top 20? How about the top 30? ...ummm... no. You need to go to number 33 on the FIDE rating list to find the former so-called FIDE bullshit blitz champion, Rustam Kasimdzhanov.

Machine: And who is this decidedly NOT-ultimate man playing? The Accoona Toolbar. This, of course, isn't a machine at all. Granted, it's powered by Fritz 9, but we couldn't just say that, could we? Especially as the top grandmasters continue to prove they are better than this software, and the also-rans like Kasimdzhanov keep acting like they have something to prove.

In other words, a crummy search engine hired a crummy grandmaster to play its crummy toolbar in a crummy attempt to drum up some publicity. And Chessbase falls for it, hook, line, and sinker. Thanks, Chessbase, for making yourself a tool once again.


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