150-Year-Old Chess Puzzle Solved

A mathematician from Harvard University named Michael Simkin has (basically) solved the n queens problem, a chess puzzle that’s some 150 years old. The mathematical challenge was created by chess composer Max Bezzel in 1848 and essentially asks “How many queens can you place on a chess board so that none are attacking each other?” Using complex linear algebra, the puzzle has been solved for up to 27 queens, but beyond that mathematicians have been stumped. As Caroline Delbert writes for Popular Mechanics, “Consider this: for eight queens, there are just 92 solutions, but for 27 queens, there are over 200 quadrillion solutions. It’s easy to see how solving the problem for numbers higher than 27 becomes extremely unwieldy or even impossible without more computing power than we have at the moment.” Simkin outlines his solution across 50 pages in a self-published research paper and although it offers an estimate, it’s impressive none-the-less. Read more about this breakthrough at Popular Mechanics.

Image courtesy of sk/Pexels