The Historical Development of Computer Chess and its Impact on Artificial Intelligence

David Heath and Derek Allum

In this paper we review the historical development of computer chess and discuss its impact on the concept of intelligence. With the advent of electronic computers after the Second World War, interest in computer chess was stimulated by the seminal papers of Shannon (1950) and Turing (1953). The influential paper of Shannon introduced the classification of chess playing programs into either type A (brute force) or type B (selective). Turing’s paper (1953) highlighted the importance of only evaluating "dead positions" which have no outstanding captures. The brute force search method is the most popular approach to solving the chess problem today. Search enhancements and pruning techniques developed since that era have ensured the continuing popularity of the type A method. Alpha-beta pruning remains a standard technique. Other important developments are surveyed. A popular benchmark test for determining intelligence is the Turing test. In the case of a computer program playing chess the moves are generated algorithmically using rules that have been programmed into the software by a human mind. A key question in the artificial intelligence debate is to what extent computer bytes aided by an arithmetic processing unit can be claimed to "think."


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