Friday, July 20, 2007

Checkers has lost its mystery...

News is out that Checkers has been solved! I am taken aback by this grandiose claim but it seems that the man behind the twenty-year effort, Prof. Jonathan Schaeffer, is not kidding at all. In 1989, Prof. Schaeffer developed the program Chinook together with Rob Lake, Paul Lu, Martin Bryant, Norman Treloar and some others, and Chinook won the world champion title in Checkers against humans. Supposedly, since that time, computers have been working around the clock to solve the game. It required thirteen years of brute-force computer analysis to figure out all 500 billion billion possible board positions. At the University of Alberta in Canada, those involved formally announced that the game of Checkers had finally been solved. The conclusion? A file now exists that contains all the information on every legal position that can occur during the game. From there, the file knows which move will lead to a win or a draw. So, the game is a draw if played correctly by both sides! Profound, eh?


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