1/Sqrt(2) Fischer + 1/Sqrt(2) Heisenberg

Bored? Try playing quantum chess.

It’s chess, but with a clever twist inspired by the principles of quantum mechanics: each of your pieces is a superposition of all of the pieces you have which haven’t been captured yet, which means you don’t know until you pick it up to move it what piece you’re looking at. The whole thing was invented by a student at Queen’s University in Australia.

I confess, when I first saw the game, I was hoping for something slightly different. This particular game depends so much on luck, I think it takes some of the fun out of it. On the other hand, I like the concept of introducing randomness into a strategy game in such a way that it remains deterministic at the top level (just as quantum mechanics tells us the universe is actually probabilistic, but predictable on large, human-sized scales). I’m thinking a cooler variation might simply be to treat the “position” of each piece as a quantum wavefunction, so that when you try to capture your opponent’s knight, you don’t know if it’s in square E5 or E6 or E7, you just know the probabilities of each. That way you would have a bit more control: “boxing in” a piece would help reduce the dispersion of it’s wavefunction, i.e., it would reduce the number of places it might reasonably be on the board.


About Colin West
Colin West is a graduate student in quantum information theory, working at the Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics at Stony Brook University. Originally from Colorado (where he attended college), his interests outside of physics include politics, paper-folding, puzzles, playing-cards, and apparently, plosives.

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