Computers Solve Checkers—It's a Draw

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And now, after putting dozens of computers to work night and day for 18 years--jump, jump, jump--he says he has solved the game--king me!. "The starting position, assuming no side makes a mistake, is a draw," he says. Schaeffer's proof, described today in Science (and freely available here for others to verify), would make checkers the most complex game yet solved by machines, beating out the checker-stacking game Connect Four in difficulty by a factor of a million. "It's a milestone," says Murray Campbell, a computer scientist at IBM's T. J. Watson Research Center in Hawthorne, N.Y., and co-inventor of the chess program Deep Blue. "He's stretched the state of the art." Although technological limits prohibit analyzing each of the 500 billion billion possible arrangements that may appear on an eight-by-eight checkerboard, Schaeffer and his team identified moves that guaranteed the game would end in a draw no matter how tough the competition.

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