There are more moves in chess than stars in the Milky Way

Friday, 29 January, 2010

Former world chess champion Garry Kasparov talks about his matches with supercomputer Deep Blue, and some of the game’s impressive numbers.

The number of legal chess positions is 1040, the number of different possible games, 10120. Authors have attempted various ways to convey this immensity, usually based on one of the few fields to regularly employ such exponents, astronomy. In his book Chess Metaphors, Diego Rasskin-Gutman points out that a player looking eight moves ahead is already presented with as many possible games as there are stars in the galaxy. Another staple, a variation of which is also used by Rasskin-Gutman, is to say there are more possible chess games than the number of atoms in the universe.

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