|
3
Arimaa
The Power of the Human Brain

A computer can beat the best human in chess, but Bulgarian grandmaster Kiril Georgiev pulled off an impressive feat in February 2009 when he played a total of 360 games simultaneously in one large room. The marathon lasted more than 14 hours -- Georgiev lost only six of the games [source: World Records Academy].

In 1997, IBM's Deep Blue computer defeated chess champion Garry Kasperov. The event inspired computer scientist Omar Syed to invent a new game that was simple to learn but so strategically complex that no computer could master it. In 2002, he published the rules to Arimaa and offered a $10,000 prize to anyone who could develop a computer program that could defeat the best human players [source: Arimaa]. Arimaa has attracted many fans since, although no one had won the prize as of early 2010.

Arimaa is played on a chess board and uses similar pieces, which are shaped like animals: rabbits, cats, dogs, horses, a camel and an elephant. The goal is to move one of eight rabbits to the other end of the board. A number of rules give the game its mind-bending complexity:

  • There is no fixed starting position; players set up their 16 pieces anywhere in the first two rows.
  • Each player can make four moves per turn.
  • A player can push or pull opponents' pieces with a stronger piece of his own.

On average, there are 17,000 possible moves on each turn of Arimaa [source: Arimaa]. Unlike in chess, the game has no set opening. Players find it more of a strategic challenge than chess, which often revolves around tactical battles. Pattern recognition and global thinking are important. Arimaa sets are available for about $40, and the game can be played online as well.

|