The Checker Maven


The amusement park in Cedar Point, Ohio, isn't known as Checkersland, though it could well have been so named, instead of bearing the much less orignal title of Cedar Point Amusement Park. We're certain that it's a fine amusement park, though we doubt that it honors the history of Cedar Point as the home of a series of high-level championship checker tournaments some decades back. More's the pity; we could envision some sort of checker-themed roller coaster as a major attraction.

However, there really is a Checkersland; but it's a relatively new checker-playing computer program. In recent years we've come across very few new checker playing programs that were intended to be more than toys, but Checkersland certainly is a serious effort. It plays a very wide variety of checker games, running the gamut from American-British "straight" checkers, to Russian, to pool, and even Turkish and Sri Lankan and many more. The graphics are attractive and there are a number of useful features, such as reading PDN, position set-up, and the like. Best of all: Checkersland is coded in Java and so will run on Windows, Linux, Mac, and in fact on just about any computer that boasts a conformant Java implementation. The Checkersland web site can be found here.

Screenshot from Checkersland

We were more than anxious to try out this latest checker-playing effort, and pleased to see that it featured many levels of play, from "easy" right through "impossible." So we carried out our standard test, playing Checkersland at its highest level, "impossible," against Martin Fierz's Simple Checkers We gave Simple Checkers five seconds per move to match up with the time that Checkersland seemed to take on our laboratory test system, Konanekane, a dual-core 2.5 Ghz machine with 4GB of memory.

To make a long story short, our testing showed that Checkersland is a work in progress, at least with respect to "straight" checkers; even at its "impossible" level, it was handily defeated by Simple Checkers.

You can see the full game in animated form, with brief comments, by clicking here. But first, we'd like to show you a position from the game. Checkersland has just made a weak move, and now Simple Checkers, playing Black, can play a winning line.


Black to Play and Win


Our challenge to you is to find the win for Black. It's certainly not at the "impossible" level, but it does require a bit of thought and follow-through. After you've done the possible, or found it not possible, click on Read More to see one possible winning line, or else go back and view the animation to see the solution in the context of the entire game.

We hope that the Russian author of Checkersland continues to work on his product, as we believe it has a lot of unrealized potential. And, by the way, Cedar Point Amusement Park take note: we'd still like some day to ride on a checker-themed roller coaster.


There are numerous variants, but here is the computer-calculated winning line:

12-16 26-23 10-15 25-22 3-7 29-25 15-19 32-27 19-26 27-24 26-31 etc. to a Black win.

01/30/10 - Category: Programs - Printer friendly version
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