Winner of World's First Quantum Chess Tournament Announced

The champion won by cunningly making his opponent run out of time.
Loukia Papadopoulos
The photo credit line may appear like thismurat efe/iStock

Imagine a tournament exciting enough to make actor Paul Rudd challenge late theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking to a game. You have now entered the realm of quantum chess and its world-first tournament just declared a winner!


A complex version of chess

The engaging event was held on December 9 at the virtual Q2B 2020 conference and saw Amazon's Aleksander Kubica take the championship, New Scientist reported. Quantum chess, for the initiated, is a complex version of regular chess where a piece can be in more than one place at once and other strange quantum concepts can take place.

“It’s like you’re playing in a multiverse but the different boards are connected to each other,” said Caltech physicist Spiros Michalakis during a live stream of the game. “It makes 3D chess from Star Trek look silly.”

If you're still confused, don't worry. Anything quantum is complicated and chess makes it even more so. Perhaps the game is best left to the experts.

In the meantime, we can ponder its purpose that can best be explained by quantum chess' founder Chris Cantwell of Quantum Realm Games. 

“My initial goal was to create a version of quantum chess that was truly quantum in nature, so you get to play with the phenomenon,” Cantwell told Gizmodo in 2016. Cantwell explained that anyone playing the game would begin to understand quantum phenomena.

To play is to understand

Does this mean the game needs to be played to be understood? Maybe. We will share one detail though. In order, to win at quantum chess, a player must make a measurement where they capture their opponent's king by guessing his location.

There is no check or check mate possible but the tournament games are timed. This is how Kubica beat Google's Doug Strain by letting him run out of time. 

If we have piqued your curiosity with this article visit the Quantum Chess site or watch the Rudd/Hawking tournament below:


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