My Friday column for the National Post is a look at the game-theoretic solving of checkers by a team at my alma mater, the University of Alberta. I've been writing about and occasionally interviewing lead investigator Jonathan Schaeffer for years and I'm tremendously excited about the lab's twin coups; even as Schaeffer's paper for Science was hitting desks, his Polaris poker software was faring pretty well against two top human pros. (This is probably not a coincidence.) Schaeffer is said to be preparing a second edition of One Jump Ahead, his book about the prolonged trial by ordeal between his checkers algorithm, Chinook, and the game's legendary world champion, Marion Tinsley. It is an underappreciated classic of popular science writing (and you can hear my younger self saying the same thing, turgidly and at unconscionable length, if you follow the "Reviews" link at Schaeffer's page for the book).
When you're finished with that you can check out three recent entries at the Post's Full Comment weblog: one on a most unusual Yugo, one on an excellent idea for science journalists (concerning a topic I've always avoided precisely because of the heavy helpings of bogusness one has to swallow), and today's brand-new rumination on the fatal accident at the Scaled Composites facility in Mojave, Calif. And you can also read a big editorial I wrote about Norman Borlaug, the crop scientist who kickstarted the Green Revolution of the '60s and '70s.