There goes checkers July 21, 2007Posted by dorigo in physics.
It’s official. The game of checkers (or draughts), the one which is played on a 8×8 board like the one used for chess, is solved. That means humans now know. We do not exactly know how to play out every position at best, but we have pocketed the crucial proof that, given perfect play, no side can win. The starting position is, in fact, a draw – something that had been considered true for a long time without a real demonstration.
The proof came just a few days ago with an extensive calculation with desktop computers, which took 18 years to complete. A subset of the hundred billion billion different positions arising in checkers have been studied in order to achieve the result. The New Scientist has the story here.
How long more will it take to solve the game of chess ? Well, fear not. Despite the achieved supremacy of computers on over-the-board play (with some caveats, true), and despite the complete solution of five- and six-men positions, computers will never solve chess, because the possible positions to study are just too many.