A Successor to Chess? A New Game of Strategy to Be Demonstrated at Yale on June 11

“We humans need to change games,” proclaimed Donald Green, professor of political science, statistics and psychology at Yale University. He made that declaration in response to the stunning victory two years ago of the chess computer Deep Blue over reigning champion–and defender of his species–Gary Kasparov.

“In order to play to our strengths as humans, we need to challenge computers to games that have as many strategic options as possible,” expanded Green, whose areas of expertise include elections, campaign financing and hate crime.

Having lain down that gauntlet to the world at large, Professor Green then proceeded to develop such a game himself. The game is called OCTI (for its octagonal-shaped pieces). Although the rules of OCTI are simple, Green believes that it allows human intuition to prevail over brute force computation–if not computer-proof, OCTI is at least cyber-defying.

OCTI presents players with a perplexing configuration of choices: they may either move their pieces, add more pieces or build their pieces’ capabilities. The result is an ever-changing array of pieces of varying strength. In chess, pawns are occasionally promoted to queens, but in OCTI promotion occurs continually throughout the game, as players race to capture opposing territory. The result is an extraordinary game of strategy suitable for two or four players.

Because OCTI invites players to create their own set of pieces, no two games are ever the same. In addition, the OCTI board allows players to attack from every possible direction, so that computers cannot get a leg up by being taught rules of thumb, such as “control the center.” Finally, players are given a limited supply of pieces, so that skillfully managing resources is a key part of the game. OCTI, in short, gives computers a lot to think about.

With internet-based play available at www.octi.net, OCTI’s following is growing rapidly, and the game is seen by many as America’s answer to the leading games of other continents: Europe’s chess, Asia’s go, and Africa’s mancala.

To demonstrate how the game works, Donald Green has challenged a number of OCTI enthusiasts in the New Haven community to test their wits by beating him at his own game.

Successful opponents will take home hundreds of dollars worth of fun and games, including a hand-crafted treasure chest of other strategy games produced by the Great American Trading Co.

The demonstration tournament of OCTI will take place in the library of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies, Yale University, 77 Prospect Street, New Haven, on Friday, June 11 at 3:00 p.m.

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Media Contact

Dorie Baker: dorie.baker@yale.edu, 203-432-1345