Did you know that the first Draughts Computer Programme was written in the UK by C. S. Strachey of London and preceded A L Samuel’s programme by several years.

I had to correct the entry in Wikipedia on this where Samuel was originally credited with producing the first such programme.

See article below.

Incidentally, I see that a copy of Samuel’s article

“Some studies in machine learning using the game of Checkers“

is offered for sale by Abebooks with a $1,500 price tag. I once had a copy of that article which I gave to Derek Oldbury when he was writing Part 14 of Vol 6 of his Ency. Possibly it may have ended up in the possession of Richard Pask. Richard, if you read this page, have a search, you might be rich!

EXTRACT FROM ARTICLE

LOGICAL OR NON- MATHEMATICAL PROGRAMMES

By C. S. Strachey, M. A.

National Research Development Corporation, London, England.

Finally I should like to describe in slightly more detail a programme I

have just completed which makes the

machine play a game of draughts.

The game of draughts occupies an intermediate position between the extremely complex games such as chess, and the relatively simple games such as Nim or Noughts-and-Crosses for which a complete mathematical theory exists.

There are several programmes in existence which will play the simple games but most of them use the complete mathematical theory so that the outcome of the game is no longer uncertain. In spite of a good deal of newspaper comment to the contrary, I do not believe that a programme has yet been constructed which will play a complete game of chess. The nearest-approach I know of is a programme for the Manchester Machine by Prinz which will solve two move chess problems, subject to certain restrictions. This programme might be adapted to play

a complete game, but it would be quite intolerably slow.

For this reason, I have considered the much simpler game of draughts. In this game the moves are relatively simple, but it is still necessary to make the machine look ahead and choose its moves by a valuation scheme. I have succeeded in making a programme for the Manchester Machine which will in fact play a complete game

of Draughts at a reasonable speed. This programme is a fairly typical example of a large logical programme.

Representation of a Position

Draughts is played on the 32 White Squares of a chessboard.

For convenience I re number these from 0 to 31 as shown in Fig. 1.

There are only two kinds of pieces for each player - men, who can

only move forwards, and Kings who can move forwards or backwards. We can represent a position completely by three 32-digit binary numbers which we shall call B, W and K. Each Digit in these numbers represents a square in the natural order - that is to say the least significant digit represents square 0 and the most significant digit square 31.

Reference: Proceedings of the Association for Computing Machinery Meeting, Toronto 1952.