Update : January 15, 2021
Arthur Samuel (IBM) was not a renowned Checkers player, but he developed a system (algorithm and data base) to play against human opponents (with rising level of competence). His program remembered “bad” moves and “good” moves. Over time, the program was able to beat a reasonably good Checkers player.
It was one of the early projects for Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Deep Blue was developed by IBM to compete against Gary Kasparov, World Champion in Chess.
Chess has many more possible moves than Checkers, but IBM hired three Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) graduates who developed Deep Thought (Computer Chess Champion that outplayed other chess programs). One graduate designed and implemented a special chip capable of fast multi-level pruning. The other two, who are knowledgeable in Chess, helped with the software (e.g. database of games and strategies).
Computer History Museum (CHM) had an exhibit on the evolution of Computer Chess and a panel discussion including AI experts and Computer Chess Pioneers.
The complexity of “Go” — which surpasses that of “Chess” — challenged AI researchers (e.g. Deep / Machine Learning) to develop “Go” systems capable of beating experienced human players.