Cake

Cake 1.85 is the latest version of my checkers engine. There are some behind-the-scenes improvements over Cake Manchester, but really not very much has changed. Cake 1.85 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.

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 8, depending on whether you build/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 2 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; although this is primarily due to the huge increase in computer processing speed over the last decade.

Credits

All code in Cake is original code. However, a lot of other people have been important in the development of Cake. Jonathan Schaeffer and his Chinook project got me interested in checkers programming in the first place. I also used the Chinook endgame database for a long time until I computed my own endgame database. In the early days, Nelson Castillo and his Dama program provided me with some competition. Nelson stopped programming checkers though, and for a while I had no big incentive to improve Cake any further. Then Ed Gilbert came along and pushed me to my limits with his KingsRow engine. We discuss checkers programming frequently, which helps both of us a lot. Thomas Lincke computed the first opening book for Cake and introduced me to drop-out-expansion. George Miller 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!

The Gecko

Last updated by Martin Fierz on July 18, 2008