Cake 1.88q is one of the world's most powerful checkers engines for the PC platform, and plays stronger than any human. It is quite frustrating to play against it, but it is a great tool for analysis. If you are looking for something even better, then use Ed Gilbert's KingsRow engine.
Why is it so good?Cake makes use of an endgame database, which means it has perfect knowledge of the value of any endgame with few pieces. Few in this context means any number between 4 and 10, depending on whether you download the larger endgame databases. Cake also makes use of a self-generated opening book with 93'000 moves by default. You can expand this by downloading the huge opening book, which contains nearly 2 million moves, more than all human opening theory. Between opening and endgame, Cake makes use of sophisticated algorithms to choose its next move, searching approximately 5 million positions per second on a modern computer. Cake is much stronger than the famous Chinook program was at the time of its world championship matches against Marion Tinsley; both because algorithms and evaluation are much (much much!) better, and also because of the huge increase in computer processing speed over the last decade.
CreditsAll code in Cake is original code. However, no man is an island, and a lot of other people have been important in the development of Cake.
- By far the most important person involved is Ed Gilbert, with whom I have had a friendly rivalry over the last nearly 20 years. Es also made his 10-piece database and the database access code available to all other checkers programmers, and in Cake 1.88q, I am finally using this.
- Reading the obituary of Marion Tinsley in Time magazine in 1995 - and about his matches against Chinook - got me interested in checkers in the first place - I'm a chess player myself, and if I had not read that story I would never have written a checkers program.
- Jonathan Schaeffer's book One Jump Ahead made for an interesting read, and I used the Chinook 6-piece endgame database for a long time until I computed my own 8-piece endgame database (the Chinook 8-piece database was not made available until later).
- Thomas Lincke computed the first opening book for Cake and introduced me to drop-out-expansion, which I subsequently used to compute an enormous opening book for Cake, which makes it virtually unbeatable at 3-move checkers.
kindly gave me a copy of DEO's Encyclopedia of Checkers, from which I learned a little something
about checkers. George Miller, Mac Banks and Gerry Lopez made the las Vegas computer world championship
possible, which made me work harder on Cake than ever before, both before and after the event.
Last but not least, whenever I was tired of programming during my stay in Hawaii, I got a little help from the little
Gecko in my office!