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Thinking Machine 4

  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (35 votes)
Comments (28) | Views (15,406)

Thinking Machine 4Thinking Machine 4 is just such a game.

In response to each one of your moves, the Java applet creates a breath-taking display of beauty as the AI maps out future potential moves whilst deciding upon the best one to make. As each move is presented by an arc connecting two squares, yellow for black and green for white, a window into the soul of the machine is opened for all to see. And while the computer contemplates the possibilities, some often several moves ahead, a network of color is formed with the brighter arcs drawn representing moves the AI thinks are better for white. It is fascinating to watch the machine think 'out loud' as it determines each move, and those who are astute might even learn something in the process.

Created by Martin Wattenberg, with Marek Walczak. The authors state that the goal of the piece is not to make an expert chess playing program but to lay bare the complex thinking that underlies all strategic thought.

Play Thinking Machine 4


Words fail me. Wow.


The computer is so damn smart, or maybe I'm just dumb, k, not so smart.

Hey Jay, did you ever mention that Scholastic/educational game here on your site... uh, what's it called... Mortal Kombat???



Robert, that wasn't an educational game, it was a desert topping. Silly wabbit.


I totally found a few bugs in the game. like.. your king can not reach the other side of the board.. its really weird (see- this is why i had a guy at work whos good at chess help me =P)


So cool. Wish I'd thought of it. The pieces are horrible, though, and it plays really poorly. Impressive that they wrote their own chess engine, I guess, but you could use gnuchess and save yourself the effort, and look into the mind of a master instead of a fish. Does anybody know any way to make it think longer on each move?


That's actually quite scary, seeing it calculating like that. It makes you feel pretty pathetic. I couldn't stand more than a few moves. I'll leave that one to the chess experts!


There is a bug in the game though. Sometimes it won't let me make a perfectly legal move, and I can't figure out why.


it dosnt start for me, its just a black/gray screen

christine August 24, 2005 3:20 PM

Henry, you need to have Java enabled in your browser for this to work. (I'm not knocking having Java disabled; indeed it's quite wise.)


i also found a bug.
the king cant be put in the upper line of black reign.
i tried, but it wont let me, so i moved another figure. Then black started thinking endlessly, without result.... Also some of the lines seemed to make a curve OUTSIDE of the board... weird

but the game is fine, and brilliant idea

Edgar Reyes December 6, 2006 2:10 PM

Congrats, it's gorgeous.


Why my pawns go on the 5th rank and why does it suddenly change to a checkmate position while I'm thinking?


horrible game...i wonder if its possible to win?


The only or if not, one of the only things that could beat this guy would be the BlueGene/L, one hell of a supercomputer, pit them against each other and watch.
Lol that would be a sight to see.

Emil Sadykhov October 27, 2007 6:40 PM

man, that thinking machine is so easyy! i beat him without a sweat and i'm only 15!!!!!!!!!!!! I don't understand why people say it's impossible to beat.


For some reason, it wouldn't let me land on/conquer the other player's pieces.

Anonymous December 6, 2007 1:22 AM

how many moves in advance does it think??


"I do not often find myself playing Chess (read: I suck at it)"

so... where do we read about you sucking at Chess?

[Edit: You misunderstood. The phrase in parentheses is a translation for the previous sentence. You can replace "In other words" for "read" and it means the same thing. -Jay]


Geez! No wonder I never beat a computer at chess. I don't think about it, I just do it.

note: for taking an opponent's piece you need to drag+drop


ermm this is chess right?
i moved my pawn then my queen and somehow in 2 turns it moved its pawn out moved its bishop in like three spaces towards left bottom corner and three spaces to the botttom right corner took my queen and put its pawn back into its position...


I was playing the thinking machine and it just stoped thinking. I had a king and a rook, and it had just the king. It just stoped thinking and never moved for twentyfour hours, any ideas why.


I had the same situation. What I figure is that the way the program is built, the computer is unable to make moves that would end up loosing the game for him. Now if someone here has won against the machine then I don't know. And by the way, I think that you would have only had a stalemate with those pieces, just incase you didn't realize that.


This is a very good game to help you learn chess. A lot of people (including me) don't think far enough ahead when they play chess, they don't think of all of the consequences. This machine looks at consequences, and thinks ahead. It's also very good to see how the computer is thinking, because the thicker lines mean that the computer is more likely to move them, so you can plan ahead and work out how to beat it.

Saying all that, I can't do any of what I have just said. My mind just doesn't work in a logical manner. (I say it's because I'm left-handed, but it really doesn't have anything to do with it.)


I guess most of the people that play this machine are really bad because I can beat it very easily. This is one of the weakest chess playing computers I've ever played against.

darkendofall December 14, 2010 3:49 PM

i swear this computer cheats! i wasnt paying any attention to its moves, but somehow it got its queen back, moved it right next to my king, and wouldnt let it attack......


Definitely one of the weakest chess programs in existence. I tested this: I pitted it against many chess programs, most notably Houdini 1.5, Stockfish 2.1.1, Komodo 3.0, Critter 1.2 . . . all of them crushed it without breaking a sweat.

Joshua Bonn October 27, 2011 12:23 AM

This machine is not made to be the hardest engine out there. It is made to show the thinking, clock-work, behind what happens on the playing board. If it was easy for you, good for you. Have fun trying new techniques to see what the engine can do. If you find a bug, tell the people who make the game in a well worded email. Be very specific. If something goes wrong, try different things to see if you can fix it. It is a beautiful way of seeing chess. Yes, other engines are definitely better than this one but using an engine to beat this engine takes the joy and wonder of the game. Please do not be rude to the person(s) who made this engine. If you want a better one, make it yourself.


Cat Poop Rain Dance!!!!! Every time I try to load the game, my "security settings" block it from loading. I Cannot Find A Way To Allow It. WHAT GIVES!!?!????? Please Help!


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