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Jun. 27th, 2005 @ 02:55 pm humans are sore losers
I've been meaning to write a real entry for about a week now, but I keep getting triple-teamed by insomnia, boredom, and laziness. Sorry, guys. I know you want to know how I am doing, and I would enjoy telling you, but I just don't have the energy to commit a week's worth of boredom-induced brain activity to keyboard.

So instead I will introduce you to Arimaa (which I keep wanting to call Thmaaaaaaaaaaa for some reason), the board game I have been playing instead of doing work. Arimaa, created in response to chess grand master Garry Kasparov's loss to IBM computer Deep Blue in 1997, is specifically designed to give humans an unfair advantage against computers, emphasizing spatial judgments and intuition over memory and computational foresight. Designing a game with this in mind may seem like petty jealousy on our part, but the handicap serves an important purpose--the goal is to create a game-playing AI that can beat us by outstrategizing us instead of relying on cheap brute-force tactics like choosing the best of all 50,000 possible moves. The game's creator, Omar Syed, is offering $10,000 US to any person, institution, or company who writes a Arimaa program that can beat a human player of his choice. Many have tried, all have failed.

Considering that Syed is a software engineer, it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect that this game would be a complicated, garbled mess, but Syed has gone above and beyond the call of duty and created a game of simplicity and elegance unmatched since the invention of go. Easier to learn and play than chess or checkers--the game's co-designer is Syed's four-year-old son--yet just as mind-bendingly strategic, Arimaa is a game that belongs on the coffee tables of our great-grandchildren. It is a true thinking man's game.

You can play online for free here. I play as erf. Come challenge me if you wish, but be warned: one of us is going to leave the match with his ass whupped. And that one of us is going to be me.
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