Friday, June 10, 2011

Time line - Chess variants, Higher Mathematics

Games are noise-free, cheap and easily replicable environments where the concepts of tactics, strategy, searching, learning and other relevant features of Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be tested in their purest state. Games, due to their conceptual flexibility, allow an open testing field for many different ideas. (João Pedro Neto (c) 2002)

Ah, you didn't let the title put you off?! Your "reward" (!?) is a pot pourri of chess variants to sample at the following sites:

The following TIME LINE was inspired by my reading about a new chess variant, in which the "unpredictable nature of quantum physics has been mimicked by Queen's University computer scientists to invent a new version of chess", thus:

"In the quantum chess computer game created by undergraduate computer science student Alice Wismath, a piece that should be a knight could simultaneously also be a queen, a pawn or something else. The player doesn't know what the second state might be or which of the two states the piece will choose when it is moved. "It was very weird," said Ernesto Posse, a Queen's postdoctoral researcher who took part in a recent "quantum chess" tournament at the university in Kingston, Ont. "You only know what a piece really is once you touch the piece. Basically, planning ahead is impossible."

How do people get interested in chess variants, such as Chess960 (Fischer Random)?. Here's how it happened for Stephen Tavener.
"I can't remember when I first learned chess and scrabble; feels like I have always known how to play; at high school, I discovered bridge, Dungeons and Dragons, and Diplomacy; but chess, bridge and role-playing games were about all I played until well after I left university.

My first introduction to the one true faith came about after I attended a play-by-mail convention, and found a flier for a board games convention called FurryCon; this would have been around 1992, I think. With the encouragement of my then girlfriend, I signed up for the convention, and every event they listed... then phoned round all my friends trying to find anyone who knew how to play Magic: the Gathering. The convention itself was great; the folks were friendly, and the games were amazing. The first German games I played were Bausack and Tal der Koenige, and I was completely hooked.
Over the next year or so, my girlfriend and I raided games shops and charity shops for every game in sight with very little discrimination, and by the next FurryCon, my house was bulging at the seams, so I took along 50 or so games for the bring and buy sale. That led to a thriving trade in used boardgames on the internet; though to be honest, it could only be considered profitable if you didn't consider the time I spent counting components and wrapping parcels.
I also started writing reviews for Games, Games, Games magazine, and got something of a reputation since I seem to like abstracts more than most... sign of a misspent youth! You'll find a number of the reviews here: though it's a little embarrassing to re-read them after all this time.
I started designing games waaay back at school, and have dabbled ever since. Recently, my friendship with Cameron Browne has spurred me to make some of my games fit for public consumption; and the spate of games design competitions here on BGG has also been a big boost. Nothing like a deadline to stir the creative juices!
When designing games, I'm usually looking for a specific feeling when I play. Hard to describe; but I know I have reached my design goals when the game play experience matches that initial feeling. My game designs are usually strongly themed, in the sense that there is an internal coherence - If I'm doing my job well, then the games won't require you to do anything which would contradict the theme, and the moves you make should advance the narrative. (That goes for the abstracts as well - though the theme may be somewhat subtler!)"

Anyway, on with the show ...

(Mainly chess variants related to Higher Mathematics)

1904 - Eigenstates
"In the everyday world, it is natural and intuitive to think of every object being in its own eigenstate. This is another way of saying that every object appears to have a definite position, a definite momentum, a definite measured value, and a definite time of occurrence. However, the uncertainty principle says that it is impossible to measure the exact value for the momentum of a particle like an electron, given that its position has been determined at a given instant. Likewise, it is impossible to determine the exact location of that particle once its momentum has been measured at a particular instant.
The word "eigenstate" is derived from the German/Dutch word "eigen," meaning "inherent" or "characteristic." An eigenstate is the measured state of some object possessing quantifiable characteristics such as position, momentum, etc. The state being measured and described must be observable (i.e. something such as position or momentum that can be experimentally measured either directly or indirectly), and must have a definite value, called an eigenvalue."
A brief refresher in the Mathematics thereof (a PDF for you to keep and treasure):

1927 - Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
"In quantum mechanics, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle states precise inequalities that constrain certain pairs of physical properties, such as measuring the present position while determining future momentum; both cannot be simultaneously done to arbitrarily high precision. That is, the more precisely one property is measured, the less precisely the other can be controlled or determined. On the other hand, it is possible to imagine a hypothetical apparatus that measures the history of a particular particle's successive positions and momentums while also measuring times and energies to arbitrary accuracies.
Published by Werner Heisenberg in 1927, the principle implies that it is impossible to simultaneously both measure the present position while "determining" the future momentum of an electron or any other particle with an arbitrary degree of accuracy and certainty. This is not a statement about researchers' ability to measure one quantity while determining the other quantity. Rather, it is a statement about the laws of physics. That is, a system cannot be defined to simultaneously measure one value while determining the future value of these pairs of quantities."

1953 - "Alice Chess" (Invented by V.R. Parton in 1953)

(you can play the game at the address below)
"The game is named after the main character "Alice" in Lewis Carroll's book Through the Looking-Glass, where travel through the looking-glass is portrayed by the after-move transfer of chess pieces between boards A and B. The simple transfer rule is well known for causing disorientation and confusion in players new to the game, often leading to surprises and amusing mistakes as pieces "disappear" and "re-appear" between boards. This "nothing is as it seems" experience probably accounts for Alice Chess remaining Parton's most popular and successful invention among numerous other variants he created in his lifetime."

1997 - "Eigenstate Chess" (created by Stephen Tavener)

- "Quantum Chess" (created by Stephen Tavener)
(you can play the game at the above address)

2000 - "Heisenberg Chess" (created by João Pedro Neto)
(older website)

2000 - "Alice-Raumschach" (created by Robert Price)
A 3D variant of the original "Alice" variant, thus:

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