Milestones | Arthur Samuel's Legacy

The Chinook project began in 1989 with the goal of developing a program capable of defeating the human World Checkers Champion. In 1990, Chinook became the first program in any game to win the right to play for a human World Championship. The program lost the Championship match in 1992, but became Champion in 1994. By 1996, it became clear that the program was much stronger than any human, and Chinook was retired.

Checkers has a search space of 5x1020, a daunting number. Almost continuously since 1989 (with a gap in the 1997 to 2001 period), dozens of computers have been working around the clock to solve the game. On April 29, 2007, we were pleased to announce that checkers is now solved. From the standard starting position, Black (who moves first) is guaranteed a draw with perfect play. White (moving second) is also guaranteed a draw, regardless of what Black plays as the opening move. Checkers is the largest game that has been solved to date, more than one million times larger than Connect Four and 100 million times larger than Awari.

Along the way, the Chinook project produced numerous research publications. Chinook’s winning of the World Man-Machine Championship (three years before the Deep Blue chess match) was a milestone in the history of artificial intelligence research. In 1996 the Guinness Book of World Records recognized Chinook as the  first program to win a human world championship.

Milestones | Arthur Samuel’s Legacy