news @ nature.com – Checkmate for checkers – Computer program is unbeatable at English draughts.
Long-time world checkers champion Marion Tinsley consistently bested all comers, losing only nine games in the 40 years following his 1954 crowning. He lost his world championship title to a computer program in 1994 and now that same program has become unbeatable; its creators have proved that even a perfectly played game against it will end in a draw.
Jonathan Schaeffer and his team at the University of Alberta, Canada, have been working on their program, called Chinook, since 1989, running calculations on as many as 200 computers simultaneously. As Chinook has worked out all relevant lines of play, it needs virtually no time to ‘think’ to work out each perfect move in a game. The results were announced today in the journal Science1. The paper and supporting materials, including the ability to play Chinook, are available on the web at http://www.cs.ualberta.ca/~chinook.