Chess is an antique, about 1,500 years old, according to most historians. As a result, its evolution seems essentially complete, a hoary game now largely trudging along. That's not to say that there haven't been milestones. In medieval Europe, for example, they made the squares on the board alternate black and white. In the 15th century, the queen got her modern powers.1
Recently I posted about the phenomenal performance of the AlphaZero algorithm in computer chess. For the first time in history, an algorithm displayed human-like understanding of chess. AlphaZero seemed to understand what moves were best and spent its time focusing only on them. It didn't mechanically crunch through millions of possible positions, run out of time, and then select the best move. The best moves emerged from its computer neural network, like a human grandmaster.
Computers can beat humans at increasingly complex games, including chess and Go. However, these programs are typically constructed for a particular game, exploiting its properties, such as the symmetries of the board on which it is played. Silver et al. developed a program called AlphaZero, which taught itself to play Go, chess, and shogi (a Japanese version of chess) (see the Editorial, and the Perspective by Campbell). AlphaZero managed to beat state-of-the-art programs specializing in these three games. The ability of AlphaZero to adapt to various game rules is a notable step toward achieving a general game-playing system.
News of a specialized computer program beating human champions at games like chess and Go might not surprise people as much as it might have before, as it did when Deep Blue beat world chess champ Garry Kasparov back in 1997, or even more recently when Google DeepMind's AI AlphaGo beat Lee Sedol in a stunning upset back in 2016.