One Jump Ahead review

My review of the 1997 book One Jump Ahead: Challenging Human Supremacy in Checkers by Jonathan Schaeffer. I have not seen the later 2008 edition, after the team completely solved the game, which is titled One Jump Ahead: Computer Perfection at Checkers.

The project leader tells the story of the checkers program Chinook and of his personal drive to defeat the great checkers champion Marion Tinsley. I wish the author had hired a professional, because he didn’t write it as well as I’d like. Even so, I found it a fascinating story.

In fact, the book has the property of being unreasonably interesting: Even though the writing is subpar, even though the topic of checkers and computers may seem dull, the story is so gripping that the book is hard to put down. Of course to me it’s not dull; it’s part of my interest in artificial intelligence. But I have seen even people who started with no interest be drawn in.

Original version, August 1997.
Updated and added here January 2012.