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It seems that computers can beat the majority of chess players out there, and at the current rate in which distributed computing is going, it seems like the #1 chess player out there will be computers these days.

However, this is different with Go, as the best AI available out there cannot beat a decent player.

Are there any chess variants, which while still maintaining some sort of similarity with chess, cannot be effectively played by a computer, while still playable by humans at a level better than AIs?

I was thinking a bigger board with more pieces would help, but rules changes might be needed as well to change the gameplay a bit. But I suppose the further you drift from the original chess game, the less interest people might have on it.

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A bigger board would be worst. The AI works simply: it takes every possible move in the next 20-30 turns and chooses the best one for itself. Having more pieces doesn't bother the AI because more possible moves isn't a problem for it, but it is for humans! –  Oltarus Sep 20 '11 at 6:58
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Oltarus: A good computer can see about 12 moves ahead with good pattern-matching (aka pruning). Increasing the number of moves hurts the computer drastically more than it hurts humans, because you have to become more reliant on pattern-matching, something computers are notoriously bad at (and humans good at). –  BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Sep 20 '11 at 15:38

4 Answers 4

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Yes. In fact, Arimaa was designed explicitly for this purpose.

http://arimaa.com/

It was designed by an AI expert who wanted a game where humans could beat the best computers. There is a contest every year called the Arimaa Challenge where AI's compete to try to beat the best humans. So far, none have.

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Arimaa looked pretty damn cool when I discovered it for the first time earlier this year. The only problem is, not only is it too hard for a computer to master, it's pretty difficult for me to work out what approach to take in order to play it well! That's quite a bit preferable to just losing to my laptop at normal chess every single time though. –  thesunneversets Sep 20 '11 at 7:41
    
Arimaa is not a chess variant, but a totally different game. It can be played with the same equipment as chess, but so can draughts (checkers), tic-tac-toe, or 9x9 Go. It's no more similar to chess than any of those games. –  RoundTower Sep 22 '11 at 14:39
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@RoundTower, I disagree. The other games you mentioned can be played with chess materials, but not naturally as the distinguished pieces lose their meaning. However, if a more authoratative souce would help, it can be found on "chessvariants.org" chessvariants.org/index/external.php?itemid=arimaa –  Neal Tibrewala Sep 22 '11 at 18:28
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@Roundtower, of course you're right, something being listed on chessvariants.org absolutely supports your claim that it is NOT a chess variant. :) –  Neal Tibrewala Apr 4 '12 at 21:56
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To be fair, @RoundTower was only saying that, if you call Arimaa a chess variant then you have to call checkers a chess variant too. –  Gareth Apr 6 '12 at 8:21

Also worth checking out Fischer Random Chess. This works well against any chess player (human or computer) that is working off "book." It increases the potential entropy of the game significantly.

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I am uncertain of the effect on an AI specifically, but the following introduces some randomness into the game, and I really enjoy playing it. Quantum Chess.

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A variant much more similar to chess than Arimaa is Twilight Chess. Like Arimaa, the design goal is explicitly to be harder for computer to master. The creator is an Associate Professor is Computer Science and a very good chess player.

The rules are

  • All classical laws of chess apply.
  • Moving to the Twilight zone (Warp move) is a legal moves for all piece but for the King.
  • Moving a piece from the Twilight zone to any free square of the chessboard (Drop move) is a legal chess move but for a pawn into the last rank (8th for white player, 1st for black player).
  • Warp and Drop moves are considered as standard moves with relation to classical laws of chess.
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Interesting, that is very simple to understand for existing chess players too. Is my understanding correct that multiple pieces can exist in the twilight zone at once, but having too many pieces there can prove a disadvantage? –  kamziro Oct 3 '11 at 12:59
    
Yes and probably. –  Clement J. Oct 8 '11 at 7:28

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