Computer program beats human race at draughts

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The Independent Online
Another weighty blow against humanity was struck yesterday when a computer program retained its title as world draughts champion in Boston, writes Andrew Brown.

Chinook, a program developed at the University of Alberta in Canada, kept its title after drawing with Don Lafferty, the second- best human player, by one game each with 18 draws. Chinook had won the title last week, when the best human player, Marion Tinsley, came down with a bug after six drawn games and resigned.

Mr Tinsley had dominated the game for 44 years, losing only nine competitive games, two against Chinook in 1992. In 1991, he resigned his human championship to play the computer. He apparently felt human opponents were too boring.

Professor Jonathan Shaeffer, who led the team that programmed Chinook, said their victory was historic: 'In years to come we're going to see machines beginning to dominate man in many more areas considered exclusively human.'

But Professor Shaeffer expressed bitter disappointment over the circumstances of his victory. 'Tinsley is the best. The title is meaningless to us. It only means something if you win it against the best,' he said in an email message.

The programming team hopes to arrange a rematch with Mr Tinsley in the autumn.