Poole versus HAL 9000
Poole versus HAL 9000 is a fictional chess game in the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Astronaut Dr. Frank Poole is seen playing a recreational game of chess with the HAL 9000 supercomputer. Poole views the board on a computer screen and dictates his moves orally to HAL using descriptive notation. Poole, playing white, is not surprised when the presumed infallible supercomputer soundly defeats him.
In the 1968 novel, no particular chess game is depicted, although it is mentioned that the astronauts can play chess and other games with HAL, and that, for the purpose of morale, the computer is programmed to temper its superiority by winning only 50% of games.
The film's director Stanley Kubrick was a passionate chess player, so unlike many chess scenes shown in other films, the position and analysis make sense. The actual game seems to come from a tournament game between A. Roesch and W. Schlage, Hamburg 1910.
|This article uses algebraic notation to describe chess moves.|
Schlage (HAL 9000)
The game depicted in the film seems to be based on the moves of the following tournament game played in Hamburg, 1910:
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. Qe2 b5 6. Bb3 Be7 7. c3 0-0 8. 0-0 d5
9. exd5 Nxd5 10. Nxe5 Nf4 11. Qe4 Nxe5 12. Qxa8?
- 12.d4 leads to a slight plus for White.
12... Qd3! 13. Bd1 Bh3! (see diagram)
- Black capitalizes on White's mistake on move 12. The film shows the game from the position illustrated, with Poole (White) contemplating his 14th move.
- Spoken by Poole as "queen takes pawn", White abandons the and slips into a . Even after 14.Qb7 c6 15.Qxe7 Bxg2 16.Re1 Nf3+ 17.Bxf3 Qxf3, mate is not far off.
14... Bxg2 15. Re1 Qf3
- Threatening 16...Nh3#. After Poole's "rook to king one", HAL says: "I'm sorry Frank, I think you missed it: queen to bishop three, bishop takes queen, knight takes bishop, mate." HAL gave Black's queen move from White's perspective, although in descriptive notation it should be given from Black's perspective as "queen to bishop six". While HAL describes a checkmate in two moves, Poole could forestall mate two extra moves; for example: 16.Qc8 Rxc8 17.h3 Nxh3+ 18.Kh2 Ng4#.
- Poole resigns without questioning HAL's analysis: "Yeah, looks like you're right. I resign."
According to some records and a still photograph taken from a scrapped film reel, a deleted scene depicted the astronauts challenging HAL in a game called Pentomino similarly to how Poole challenged HAL in chess. The game was meant to be mass-produced by Parker Brothers as a tie-in to the film, but the scene eventually never saw release. The game was released as Universe in 1967, with pictures from the film on the box, including the aforementioned still photograph.
- "Roesch vs. Willi Schlage, Hamburg 1910". Chessgames.com.
- Matanović, Aleksandar, ed. (1981), Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings, C (2nd ed.), Yugoslavia: Chess Informant, p. 412, n. 81,
- Wall, Bill (22 June 2007). "2001: A Chess Space Odyssey". Chess.com. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
- Campbell, Murray S. "An Enjoyable Game": How HAL Plays Chess (pdf). Archived from the original on 1998-01-14.
- Stork, David G., ed. (1998). HAL's Legacy 2001's Computer As Dream and Reality. Foreword by Arthur C. Clarke. Cambridge: MIT Press. ISBN 9780262692113.
- Krabbé, Tim (1999). "Willi Schlage".
The only unknown to become immortal twice.
- on YouTube