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Coupons help evaluate game of Go

Game theory math might clarify complexity of chess

CHICAGO—A new twist on the ancient board game Go may clarify the complicated mathematics behind games like chess, suggests research from the mathematical field known as combinatorial game theory.

Using “coupons” to quantify the value of moves in the game allowed researchers to describe the math behind the game more precisely, mathematician Elwyn Berlekamp of the University of California, Berkeley reported February 14 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Go is a popular game in Asia thought to originate 3,000 to 4,000 years ago. Using a board with 19 squares on each side, players put stones on the grid in an attempt to surround and capture an opponent’s stones. Although the rules of Go are simple, the strategy of the game is very complex.

A chess board has more than 1040 legal configurations that the pieces can be in at one time. The Go board has about 10171.

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