The manufacturer of an electronic chess game claimed that it could defeat Anatoly Karpov, the reigning chess champion of the world.
It was nothing more than a glorified single-purpose toy. This was years before IBM’s Deep Blue posed a serious challenge to human chess players.
A law firm was called in to counter the product’s claims. Attorneys looking for a chess master narrowed their search to a club in a storefront in a near suburb. There they found Richard Lang, a university professor who had long been ranked in tournament play.
The lawyers invited Richard to lunch at the prestigious Chicago Athletic Club where he was required to put on a borrowed blazer and a tie. He ordered the chicken-salad sandwich and they talked. The suits quickly realized they had found their knight errant.
The man and the machine squared off in what turned out to be an unfair match. Richard didn’t break a sweat. The device never recovered from the first game. Its marketing team immediately dropped its bogus performance claims.
My friend doesn’t remember an opening gambit or anything special about his strategy. But there’s one lesson he did draw from being the champion of the human race: No chicken salad sandwich is worth $25.