# The Continuance Question

A few years ago, in the distant past for some, a Canadian company by the name of Chanuk used multiple processors in a supercomputer to go through all the possible variations of Checkers (Draughts).  By knowing all the possible variations that can result from certain moves, they can effectively always win the game by knowing which moves win and which moves lose.  In recent news, I discovered that Chess will undergo a similar study by this company, and will be beaten within the next 10 years.

I have heard many speak of this event with negativity, and some with positivity.  How do you feel about a computer successfully "Beating" chess?

Will chess still be played with the passion it is today if the game has been "beaten" by Chanuk?

Will you, personally, continue playing if the game is beaten?

My answer is that I love the game of chess, and will play it despite the supercomputer's involvement, and I hope the game of chess will continue to be played with passion and brilliance.

According to kurtgodden's blog, there is this "estimate that there are more distinct 40-move games of chess (2.5 x 10116) than there are electrons in the universe (1079).  If a computer can solve chess in the near future, I think it'll not affect chess among humans.
Unbeliever wrote:

A few years ago, in the distant past for some, a Canadian company by the name of Chanuk used multiple processors in a supercomputer to go through all the possible variations of Checkers (Draughts).  By knowing all the possible variations that can result from certain moves, they can effectively always win the game by knowing which moves win and which moves lose.

This isn't exactly true. Checkers has been solved by computational proof, but that doesn't mean the computer will always win, only that it will never lose. A very skilled player could play the computer to a draw.

It's been recognized for some time that checkers is much less mathematically complicated than chess, and tournament play has responded. A standard tournament match begins with three random moves before they players even start, so that the game doesn't get played out.

Have people stopped playing Checkers?  No.  Have people stopped playing Chinook (Chinook, not Chanuk, is the name of the computer) at Checkers?  Yes.

Unbeliever wrote:

In recent news, I discovered that Chess will undergo a similar study by this company, and will be beaten within the next 10 years.

I believe this is false. Can you cite a source? It just doesn't make sense numerically that chess could be solved in the same manner as checkers in that short of time.

Here are some numbers for those who think about solving chess this way. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that there are only 3 moves to look at for each side on each move (obviously there are more than this). That means that in 20 moves (40 half moves) there will be 10^19 positions to generate and evaluate. If you are able to generate and evaluate a billion positions per second, it would take you 316 years to generate and evaluate the end positions of the first 20 moves.

Given 3 moves to consider each half move, "solving chess" 30 moves deep would require generating and evaluating 10^28 positions. If you had a billion computers that could each generate and evaluate 10 billion positions per second, this would take over 31 years.

7-man endgame tablebases are expected to take another seven years to  finish, so I figure we are much more than 10 years away from 16-man tablebases (a solved game). Barring aliens, time travelers, or Gods giving us new technology:

"So, what does all this mean for chess? Can we extrapolate these results from one checkers playing programs to chess playing programs? Certainly, Chinook and Fritz use similar search algorithms. They each have a positional evaluation function. They each take advantage of table bases for evaluating endgames. The big difference is the number of positions possible in each game: 1020 for checkers and 1040 for chess. To get some idea of this, if a computer could solve checkers completely in one nanosecond (a single cycle of a 1 GHz computer), it would take this computer 3000 years to solve chess."

Also, Chinook's team leader was quoted as saying, during an interview:

""Given the effort required to solve checkers, chess will remain unsolved for a long time, barring the invention of new technology.""

Also, remember that the 7 years it takes to generate the 7 man table bases is not the amount of time it takes to fully solve the 7 man positions, it's just the amount of time it takes to reduce them to a 6 man position since these are already solved. Good example of how hard it is to fully search this game!
http://www.wylliedraughts.com/Tinsley.htm  <------- chinook lost to Marion Tinsley who is considered to be the best human checkers player ever I believe..
Reb, Chinook's loss to Tinsley was before Checkers was solved. Now with the solution in hand, the machine would not lose a game.
Loomis wrote: Reb, Chinook's loss to Tinsley was before Checkers was solved. Now with the solution in hand, the machine would not lose a game.

Perhaps you are correct loomis, I dont see how anyone could know that for sure though. In any event Marion Tinsley is incredible! I am no checkers fan but just imagine being at the very top for more than 40 years!!? I doubt this has ever been done in in any other sport/game. It makes Lasker's 27 year chess reign pale in comparison.

"I dont see how anyone could know that for sure"

Reb, do you believe it can be done for tic-tac-toe? If so, why not checkers? In principle it can be done for chess, but the time and resources necessary are too large for the current or foreseable technology of humans.

Loomis..I was always taught not to believe everything I hear and only about half of what I see...  So far this has served me well in life.
Seeing as chess probably won't be solved for another few decades/centuries/millenium, I'll keep playing.    Honestly, I don't think they'll be able to even get close to solving chess until they finish that new type of computer.  I think it's called quantum computing.  I don't know much about this, only that's it's a technology in development and I think it uses light to transfer information instead of electrons, so it's much faster.  Anyways, even if they perfect those, it would still take a long time for them to figure out all of the moves in chess.  Maybe only 1000 years instead of 3000.  So, unless I live that long, I'll be playing chess for my whole life.  Even if they did solve it within my lifetime, I'd still play chess.  Chess is so complicated that no one could possibly hold every single move in their head, so I don't have to worry about my human opponents knowing the results of every move, and I can always beat my computer in kickboxing.
Loomis wrote:

Here are some numbers for those who think about solving chess this way. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that there are only 3 moves to look at for each side on each move (obviously there are more than this). That means that in 20 moves (40 half moves) there will be 10^19 positions to generate and evaluate. If you are able to generate and evaluate a billion positions per second, it would take you 316 years to generate and evaluate the end positions of the first 20 moves.

Given 3 moves to consider each half move, "solving chess" 30 moves deep would require generating and evaluating 10^28 positions. If you had a billion computers that could each generate and evaluate 10 billion positions per second, this would take over 31 years.

Ah, but here is the brilliancy.  It simply plays itself continously using multiple processors, and the data is fed into a bank for the computer to analyze.  Using multiple processors means it is playing itself at least 100 times simultaneously (this is what I have read, but it could be an untruth), will allow it to solve chess by evaluating each of the games and seeing which move won.  If each game takes an hour, and the computer is on continously, that means that it will evaluate 24,000 games a day, each with multiple positions.  It will then, using the data it learned while it was playing, begin another set of a hundred games.  It is simply playing itself continously to learn which moves won the game.  So, each year it is evaluating 8,760,000 games, which means at least that many positions. As I understand it, the company released a statement when they came out with Chinook Checkers saying they would be doing chess next.  It would however, be extremely amusing if that was PR and did not mean anything definite.

Unbeliever, that still doesn't even get you close. Notice in my post that I allowed for 10 billion computers running simultaneously, so to say the least I am not impressed at 100 simultaneous games.

You say 8.76 million games a year. Let's give you the benefit of the doubt and say 10 million games a year and 100 moves analyzed per game. That equates to 1 billion moves per year. But as I stated above, you won't even make it at 1 billion moves per second or even 100 billion moves per second!

Wow, I'll look into this and see what I can turn up.  Let me double-check the math and get back to you.
I retract my above statement.  I looked into the math of Chinook and, while it turns out the computer was actually relocated to Israel, the project's press release saying it was going to solve chess next was retracted, apparently after some scientist realized what Loomis has.  The scientists still claim it is possible, and they just need more processors and more computing power to solve the game.
It's a turn based game with complete information (like tic-tac-toe, connect-4, and checkers, which have all been solved). So in principle, it can be solved by brute force. However, if the solution is so large that it requires every atom on earth to store it, I wouldn't bet any of my money that the Chinook people will be solving the game any time soon.