Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Quantum Chess

Recently there was some cool board game buzz about combining quantum super-positions and chess: Quantum Chess.

The game was designed by Selim Akl as a response to the brute-force superiority of computers in standard chess. Alice Wismath, working with Dr. Akl, implemented a non-quantum version (they point out: "a true quantum board may be a few years in the future") as a Java 1.6 applet (I had to upgrade my browser's Java).

The basic idea behind this game is that the identity of each piece (aside from Kings) exists in a super-position before it is moved. The actual piece will be one of two different options (for example, either a rook or a knight) which is only known once you decide to move that piece. Thus, each turn consists of first choosing a piece to move, then determining what type of piece it actually is, then moving that piece.

Naturally, since the value of the pieces is based on some randomness (quantumness is considered randomness, right?) this is not strictly a combinatorial game. Until we have quantum boards, it's not exactly a board game either... Still, we can implement this in a non-quantum way using a big checkerboard and two sets of chess pieces. By putting two pieces on the same square to indicate the super-position for non-collapsed pieces, you can then decide the actual value by flipping a coin once the piece is chosen.

In any case, this is an extremely original game and an excellent work by Akl and Wismath. With any luck this will bring interest into both games and general quantum... ness. As you can see, I need a lesson on quantum mechanics and quantum computing!

Note: I will be out of action on Tuesday, so the next post will probably not occur until next Friday.

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