Creating computer-resistant chess variants
By Fritz Juhnke
- Became interested by three recent articles about computer-resistant chess variants:
“Switch Side Chain Chess” by Azlan Iqbal
“Tandem Pawn Chess” by Ken Regan
“Option Chess” by Paul Bonham.
- A chess variant is generally touted as computer-resistant only until it garners enough attention that someone takes the trouble to write a dominant program for it.
- Arimaa is a modern abstract strategy game that is playable with chess equipment. It was published in 2002 by Omar Syed, an Indian American computer engineer trained in artificial intelligence. Syed was inspired by Garry Kasparov's defeat at the hands of the chess computer Deep Blue to design a new game which could be played with a standard chess set, would be difficult for computers to play well, but would have rules simple enough for his then four-year-old son Aamir to understand.
- Together with the game Syed offers a $10,000 prize, available until 2020, for software that runs on commodity hardware and can beat the best human players of Arimaa. As of 2014, the Arimaa challenge prize has not been won.
- Seven things the author looks for designers of computer-resistant games to do or avoid doing.
1. Don't worry about the opening book. The advantage computers have over humans in chess has little to do with their huge opening repertoire.
2. Know that increased complexity is a double-edged sword.
3. Exclude mind-bending moves.
4. Rely on human spatial perception.
5. Increase the branching factor without introducing sudden spatial changes.
6. Preserve small markers of progress in any position.
7. Create a game with strategic depth.
- Author: "I have tried to reflect a little bit of what past attempts to create computer-resistant abstract strategy games have revealed. I hope we collectively can avoid naively taking the claims of game inventors at face value, yet also avoid unfairly dismissing all chess variants as too unlikely to be computer resistant to be worth examining."