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Yes-yes, I completely agree with that part. It IS possible to brute force all possible combinations. My point was merely that this is not enough, or more likely - useless. Any game is infinitesimal subset of all possible combinations, and knowing all possible combinations "doesn't make a game".Originally posted by Hurkyl

However, like tic-tac-toe, chess is a game with a finite number of board positions, and can, in principle, be brute forced from the starting position down through all possible combinations of moves (though, at present, that feat is too formidible to attempt)

From any state of board, you could find optimal solution. But that optimal solution depends on what opponent does. You assume that opponent takes also optimal solution, and contradiction occurs - one of players has to fail. Therefore, one opponent is going to make suboptimal move, sending whole 'optimal solution' way south. At this point, 'new optimal solution' must be found. Over and over again. And thats precisely what chess players are constantly doing. Single move on the board can change notion of optimal solution. When players recognise what 'optimal solution' opponent invented, they immediately try to ruin it. And its always possible, unless player has already failed.

From any state there are many equally optimal solutions, and player has to choose ONE to pursuit. When that choice is made, player is committed, he has spent some of his most precious resource - number of moves. And if that 'path' is ruined, player is left with shaky ground. Do you see what I mean?