It was my luck (perhaps my bad luck) to be the world chess champion during the critical years in which computers challenged, then surpassed, human chess players. Before 1994 and after 2004 these duels held little interest. The computers quickly went from too weak to too strong. But for a span of ten years these contests were fascinating clashes between the computational power of the machines (and, lest we forget, the human wisdom of their programmers) and the intuition and knowledge of the grandmaster.I recommend the article to anyone interested in such things. Reading it inspired me to play some checkers against a computer for the first time in years. There's a fine Java checkers program online at thinks.com. It's amusing, then infuriating, how easily this little free program can crush a mere human each and every time.
I think it was in the 80s that my brother (the MIT prof) informed me that a computer had been programmed to beat the best checkers player in the world. But it wasn't until a couple years ago that computers completely solved the game:
... if black moves first, and both sides play perfectly, the game ends in a draw. To reach this conclusion, dozens of computers have been playing the game with state-of-the-art artificial intelligence techniques almost continuously since 1989...And last year, for the first time, a computer bested a pro Go player.
Checkers has about 500 billion possible positions and is the most challenging popular game that computers have solved to date.