Enlarge /. An Amazon player, Aleksander Kubica, won the world's first quantum chess tournament during the Q2B virtual conference on quantum computers last week.
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Forget all the amusing memes of Anya Taylor-Joys Beth Harmon from The Queen & # 39; s Gambit battling Spock in Star Trek's infamous 3D chess. We want Beth to compete against challengers in a quantum chess tournament. The world's first such tournament took place on December 9th as part of the virtual Q2B 2020 conference on the subject of quantum computers. According to New Scientist, Aleksander Kubica from Amazon won.
What exactly is quantum chess? It is a complicated version of regular chess that involves the quantum concepts of superposition, entanglement and interference. "It's like you're playing in a multiverse, but the different boards (in different universes) are connected," Caltech physicist Spiros Michalakis said during a live stream of the tournament. "It makes Star Trek 3D chess look silly."
Quantum Chess (as played in a tournament) is the brainchild of Chris Cantwell of Quantum Realm Games. As a graduate student in quantum computing at the University of Southern California, he got the idea while working on a project for a class on creativity and invention. "My original goal was to develop a version of quantum chess that is really quantum chess so that you can play with the phenomenon," Cantwell told Gizmodo in 2016. "I didn't want it to be just a game that taught." Human quantum mechanics. "By playing the game, the player slowly develops an intuitive grasp of the rules of the quantum realm." I feel like I can understand quantum phenomena myself more intuitively by playing the game, "he said.
To start a Kickstarter campaign for a commercial version of quantum chess, Alex Winter (i.e. Bill of Bill and Ted) shot a short video, Anyone Can Quantum (embedded below), in which Paul Rudd – who went subatomic and visited the quantum realm in Ant Man – challenged the late Stephen Hawking to a game of quantum chess. The video featured not only Rudd and Hawking, but also an amusing voice-over from Keanu Reeves (i.e. Ted from Bill and Ted). It debuted in January 2016 at One Entangled Evening, a special event to kick off a Caltech conference on the future of the quantum computer. The 12-minute video has seen more than 8 million views since then.
<img alt = "Spock plays 3D chess in" Charlie X ", an episode Star Trek: The Original Series, which originally aired in 1966. "src =" https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/chess1-640×427.jpg "width =" 640 "height =" 427 "srcset =" https: //cdn.arstechnica .net / wp-content / uploads / 2020/12 / chess1.jpg 2x”/>Enlarge /. Spock plays 3D chess in Charlie X, an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series that originally aired in 1966.
You don't have to be a quantum physicist to play quantum chess, according to Cantwell, although it is helpful to already know the rules of regular chess. In quantum chess, there are several boards on which the pieces exist and their number is not fixed. Players can make "quantum moves" as well as regular moves. Players just need to specify what type of movement they are making. Each quantum move creates an overlay of boards (doubling the number of possible boards in the overlay with each quantum move), although the player sees a single board representing all boards at the same time. And every single move works on all boards at the same time.
Pawns move in the same way as in normal chess, but other pieces can make either standard or quantum moves so that they can occupy more than one square at a time. In a 2016 blog post, Cantwell presented the example of a white queen making a quantum move from D1 to D3:
We get two possible boards. The queen did not move at all on a board. On the other side the queen moved. Every board has a 50 percent chance of "existence". Showing all possible boards, however, would get quite complicated after just a few moves. So the player's view of the game is a single board. After the Quantum Queen's turn, the player sees the following:
The blue-green "filling" of each queen shows the probability of finding the queen in that room. the same queen that exists in different places on the board. The queen is in the overlay of being in two places at the same time. On your next turn the player can move one of his figures.
Pieces can also become entangled with each other – crucial in Rudd's strategy against Hawking. In order to determine where the tangled piece actually is, a player must take a measurement. In fact, this is the only way to win a game of quantum chess as no check or check mate is possible. A player must capture his opponent's king while making a quantum measurement of his location. The tournament games were scheduled, however, and so Kubica eventually prevailed against his opponent, Google's Doug Strain. Strain just ran out of time.
And yes, Alex Winter remains a fan of quantum chess. "This idea of connecting quanta to something that is more understandable, more practical and that people are still thinking about a lot was really incredible," he said during a surprise visit to the tournament's livestream last week.
Can Paul Rudd beat Stephen Hawking, one of the greatest minds of our generation, in a game of chess that will determine the future of humanity? Most likely not. Unless….