The Chinook Story

Jonathan Schaeffer and Rob Lake were gracious enough to spend the day with Justin and I. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Jonathan led a team of computer scientists (including Rob) and checker experts in the creation of Chinook. After 18 years the team successfully ┬ádeveloped Chinook into an unstoppable checker playing monster.

Jonathan wrote a great book chronicling his own and the team’s ups and downs in those 18 years. Jonathan’s book, One Jump Ahead is a great read. You can find it here:

http://www.amazon.com/One-Jump-Ahead-Computer-Perfection/dp/0387765751/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1248231040&sr=8-4

The Chinook story on its own is extremely movie-worthy. Most notably, the book tells the story of the long-time friendly rivalry between the Chinook team and Marion Tinsley. “Terrible” Tinsley as he was sometimes known is widely accepted to be the best checker player to ever live. Jonathan and his team went head to head with Tinsley on several occasions in Man v. Machine match ups.

Jonathan and Rob shared their stories of their time spent with Tinsley and other checker luminaries. Jonathan was also a fantastic host and we thank him for his hospitality. He even carried some of our gear! I guess Canadians really are nicer than Americans. Tomorrow is another travel day as we head to Dubuque, Iowa to visit our new friend, Mr. Checkers. See you there.

Johnathan Schaeffer in his teaching office.

Johnathan Schaeffer in his teaching office. He now serves as Vice Provost at The University of Alberta.

We even got to watch the man battle the machine he created.

We even got to watch the man battle the machine he created.

Jonathan Schaeffer and Rob Lake

Jonathan Schaeffer and Rob Lake

Justin tried his best not to be grumpy about the close quarters

Justin tried his best not to be grumpy about the close quarters

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