A report has been released that a computer scientist from the University of Alberta has solved the game of checkers (8×8 version). The venerable game which has been a source of entertainment for families has now joined the ranks of tic-tac-toe. This is what Professor Jonathan Schaeffer claims on his website dedicated to his checker program Chinook:
Checkers is solved. From the starting position, black to play can only draw against a perfect opponent.
He also gave a present on 8 May 2007 at the University of Alberta on solving checkers. The podcast is available here. Interesting stuff! He talks about a legendary figure Dr. Marion Tinsley who was a long-time World Champion. Tinsley terrorized the opposition for decades until he was held by the Chinook program in a four-game “Man vs. Machine” match in 1992. The podcast seems to focus more on the marvels of Tinsley than Chinook. In the podcast, Tinsley even appeared to be the equivalent of Garry Kasparov in terms of his determination.
Schaeffer does say that the solution for chess is quite a ways off.
Checkers has roughly the square root of the number of positions in chess. Given the effort required to solve checkers, chess will remain unsolved for a long time, barring the invention of new technology.
That’s reassuring. 😕 Well… given the past several “Man vs. Machine” matches, it looks as if that time is short.
Read the report here!