A solved game is a game whose outcome (win, lose, or draw) can be correctly predicted from any position, given that both players play perfectly. Games which have not been solved are said to be "unsolved." Games for which only some positions have been solved are said to be "partially solved." This article focuses on two-player games that have been solved.
A two-player game can be "solved" on several levels:
- In the weakest sense, solving a game means proving whether the first player will win, lose, or draw from the initial position, given perfect play on both sides. This can be a non-constructive proof (possibly involving a strategy stealing argument) that need not actually determine any moves of the perfect play.
- More typically, solving a game means providing an algorithm that secures a win for one player, or a draw for either, against any possible moves by the opponent, from the beginning of the game. That is, producing at least one complete ideal game (all moves start to end), with proof that each move is optimal for the player making it.
- The strongest sense of solution requires an algorithm which can produce perfect play (moves) from any position, i.e. even if mistakes have already been made on one or both sides.
Given the rules of any two-person game with a finite number of positions, one can always trivially construct a minimax algorithm that would exhaustively traverse the game tree. However, since for many non-trivial games such an algorithm would require an infeasible amount of time to generate a move in a given position, a game is not considered to be solved weakly or strongly unless the algorithm can be run by existing hardware in a reasonable time. Many algorithms rely on a huge pre-generated database, and are effectively nothing more than that.
As an example, the game of tic-tac-toe is solvable as a draw for both players with perfect play (a result even manually determinable by schoolchildren). Games like nim also admit of a rigorous analysis using combinatorial game theory.
Whether a game is solved is not necessarily the same as whether it remains interesting for humans to play. Even a strongly solved game can still be interesting if the solution is too complex to be memorized; conversely, a weakly solved game may lose its attraction if the winning strategy is simple enough to remember (e.g. Maharajah and the Sepoys). An ultra-weak solution (e.g. Chomp or Hex on a sufficiently large board) generally does not affect playability.
Other articles related to "solved game, solved, game":
... Chess Solved by retrograde computer analysis for all three- to six-piece, and some seven-piece endgames, counting the two kings as pieces ... It is solved for all 3–3 and 4–2 endgames with and without pawns, where 5-1 endgames are assumed to be won with some trivial exceptions (see endgame ... The full game has 32 pieces ...
Famous quotes containing the words game and/or solved:
“One of lifes primal situations; the game of hide and seek. Oh, the delicious thrill of hiding while the others come looking for you, the delicious terror of being discovered, but what panic when, after a long search, the others abandon you! You mustnt hide too well. You mustnt be too good at the game. The player must never be bigger than the game itself.”
—Jean Baudrillard (b. 1929)
“The problems of this world are only truly solved in two ways: by extinction or duplication.”
—Susan Sontag (b. 1933)