Ed Trice
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  • July 21, 1989

    It was nearly 20 years after we landed on the moon, and I was playing for the title of the Drexel University Chess Champion. For some reason, the match did not start on time that year, and it ran right up until practically the graduation ceremony. With so much focus on other events that were happening, it did not make it into the college newspaper until the summer session had begun.

    What is so interesting about this is... I found a copy of the news article in a desk drawer, and I found a copy of it online as well. I must have lived in at least 10 different places since the summer of 1989, so it is amazing that this document survived.

    View the PDF from my website

    This battle was made more interesting by the fact that a computer chess program was also playing for the chess title. It was a program I started working on in 1985, and entered into United States Chess Federation tournaments in April of 1987. Since the program went 3-0 against an average field of 1807 in its first tournament, it was given a 2207 provisional chess rating. This is just barely over the minimum rating for a Master in United States Chess Federaton play. By the time the Drexel tournament came around in 1989, the members of the chess club wanted to see how they would do against it. Since I had to be the one operating the computer, I did not want to sit around week after week unless there was something "in it for me." So I asked the group to vote on allowing it to play for the club championship if its record against the rest of us warranted it. In the end, The Sniper would be allowed to participate.

    Because I had been practicing against it, and it was a stronger player than I was in 1985 and 1986, I was improving faster than I would have without access to such a strong chess playing resource. By 1989, there was no question I had sharpened my play considerably. I also knew the types of positions that could get the program into trouble. When I qualified to play for the title that year, there were some grumblings from Hoi Polloi. The program qualified also, and many felt I had an unfair advantage. You can read the whole story and decided for yourself.

    View the PDF from Drexel University's website

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