Path of Go
Think chess is a bit of a challenge?
According to researchers at Microsoft, you ought to give Go a try.
Played with nothing more than a 19-by-19 grid and a set of black and white
stones, Go originated in East Asia well over two thousand years ago, and remains extremely popular today. Although the rules are very simple (it's similar to a Western game called Reversi or Othello), its
deceptive complexity has made creating a computer-controlled opponent a
Researchers at Microsoft, though, are convinced they've made a major breakthrough
with the release last month of Path of Go, an Xbox 360 version of the
game that offers an unprecedented challenge for novices and experts.
"It is one of the most complex and deep boardgames there is," said Microsoft Research's Joanquin Quiñonero Candela. "Many people think of chess as a challenge for artificial intelligence. However, the strongest chess player today is not a human -- it's a
computer. The story for Go is completely different."
At any one time a chess game usually has about 20 or 30 legal moves a
player can make, according Candela, but in Go the number is generally
more like two hundred. "The universe of possible games of Go that you
can play is enormous -- way larger than the number of atoms in the
universe," he said -- and that variability makes artificial intelligence
routines very hard to write.
Which makes Path of Go all the more impressive. Six years in the making, it
puts up such a stiff fight that even Candela hasn't been able to beat
If you feel like taking up the challenge yourself, you'll find it
available for download via Xbox Live for 400 Microsoft points (or $5 in
Earth money). Considering it'll probably keep you playing for a
lifetime, that seems like pretty good value to us.