Boffins build 'unbeatable' draughts program

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Boffins build 'unbeatable' draughts program

Scientists in Canada claim to have created a computer program that is unbeatable at the game of draughts, also known as 'checkers'.

The Chinook software took 18 years to develop and meant logging 500 billion billion game movements.

The program is now available online, and its creator, Jonathan Schaeffer, is confident that even the best human player will only be able to draw. 

"I am thrilled with this achievement," he said. "Solving checkers has been something of an obsession of mine for nearly two decades, and it is really satisfying to see it through to its conclusion."

Schaeffer started work on the program in 1989 with the aim of winning the world checkers championship. He convinced the organisers to let the software play the following year but it took four more years of refinement to win the contest.

The victory in 1994 was the first time that a computer program had won a world championship. Chinook was undefeated for the next three years when Schaeffer retired the software.

The scientist restarted work on the project in 2001 and now claims that the software is unbeatable. Schaeffer is using it to demonstrate advances in artificial intelligence.

"We have taken the knowledge used in artificial intelligence applications to the extreme by replacing human-understandable heuristics with perfect knowledge, " he said.

"It is an exciting demonstration of the possibilities that software and hardware are now capable of achieving."
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