While some people might think of checkers as a dumb cousin of chess, the game requires strategic and tactical prowess. Perhaps none knew that better than Marion Tinsley, the world champion of checkers from 1955 to 1992. Between 1950 and 1992, Tinsley lost only five games. In August 1992, Tinsley agreed to face off against a new opponent called Chinook.
Chinook began as a project in 1989. Led by Jonathan Schaeffer, Robert Lake, Paul Lu and Martin Bryant, this project would span more than a decade as the team tried to solve the game of checkers. The match against Tinsley in 1992 marked an early attempt to match electronic wits against a human champion.
The first series of matches went well for Tinsley. He emerged victorious, defeating Chinook four games to two, with 33 draws. Tinsley relished the challenge and agreed to a rematch in 1994. After several draws, Tinsley withdrew from the match for health reasons and resigned his title as world champion.
Chinook went on to play and defeat other human challengers like checkers Grandmaster Don Lafferty. In 2007, the team announced they had solved the game of checkers -- perfect play on both sides would always result in a draw.