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Kings Row – A Powerful Computer Checkers Program

Kings Row is a checkers engine that has been designed for use with the Checker Board GUI. The program was released by Ed Gilbert in 2000, and has undergone almost continuous enhancements and improvements since it was first released, making it one of the most powerful checkers engines around today.

Kings Row actually bears a lot of similarities with the Cake++ computer checkers program, although it has the advantage of being compatible with the Chinook database up- to 8 pieces.

While Kings Row was noticeably stronger than Cake++ particularly in the early years of its development, Cake++ eventually managed to catch up and gradually became the more powerful of the two computer checkers programs. Kings Row is still somewhat lagging behind Cake++ at the present time, although it can compare quite favorably to the latter program.

Kings Row competed in a checkers match against Cake++ which was held on Thanksgiving of 2004, a match which Cake++ won 3 to 1. The author of the program, Ed Gilbert, completed the development of a 10-piece endgame database for use with KingsRow in July 17, 2005, which added considerably to its effectiveness.

In February of 2004, the endgame database drivers for use with Kings Row was made available to computer checkers program programmers. These drivers were provided in the form of a .dll file, and offered high-performance access to the Cake, Chinook, and to Kings Row’s English and Italian version databases. Documentation on the API was also included in the header file.

In December of 2005 the plans to release the 9-piece and part of the 10-piece Italian databases was announced. The development of the 5x4 subset of the 9-piece Italian database was completed in October of that same year, along with several useful components of the 10-piece Italian database, which was comprised of 5x5 positions with one king or less on each side.

The development of these positions took only 3 weeks of computation, compared to the computations for the 10 piece positions in English checkers that took almost a whole year to finish with 4 computers working. The author managed to cut down the development time significantly by skipping the more king-heavy positions. While this process resulted in some disadvantages, some of the positions that rely on the missing positions with more kings cannot be resolved, for example: only a small number of the positions cannot be resolved. This resulted in an Italian Kings Row version that was more powerful and required only a little more computing power.

In December of 2007, a new version of Kings Row won a tournament against 9 European programs in the Netherlands.

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