Potential chess games- math can be cool



The number of legal chess positions is 10^40, the number of different possible games, 10^120. Authors have attempted various ways to convey this immensity, usually based on one of the few fields to regularly employ such exponents, astronomy. In his book Chess Metaphors, Diego Rasskin-Gutman points out that a player looking eight moves ahead is already presented with as many possible games as there are stars in the galaxy. Another staple, a variation of which is also used by Rasskin-Gutman, is to say there are more possible chess games than the number of atoms in the universe. All of these comparisons impress upon the casual observer why brute-force computer calculation can’t solve this ancient board game. They are also handy, and I am not above doing this myself, for impressing people with how complicated chess is, if only in a largely irrelevant mathematical way.

( NYBooks)

Chess Metaphors: Artificial Intelligence and the Human Mind
by Diego Rasskin-Gutman, translated from the Spanish by Deborah Klosky
MIT Press, 205 pp., $24.95


‘The chess master’. (2010). Retrieved Jan 8, 2015,

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