Intuitively simple ... intellectually challenging


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    Arimaa (pronounced Ah-REE-ma) is a very deep strategy game with simple rules. It was designed to be:
    The creation of Arimaa was inspired by the Deep Blue vs Gary Kasparov match in which the computer defeated the world chess champion. Arimaa was created to show that humans can still outplay computers using a chess set and provide the next challenge to the AI community.

Why is Arimaa hard for computers?

"Arimaa's a better game than I thought. It follows a fairly sound approach to making the game difficult for computers."
-- Bram Cohen
creator of BitTorrent

  • On average there are over 17,000 possible moves compared to about 30 for chess; this significantly limits how deep computers can think, but does not seem to affect humans.
  • Opening books are useless since the starting position is not fixed. There are over 64 million ways to start the game.
  • End game databases are not helpful since a game can end with all pieces still on the board.
  • Research papers on Arimaa suggest it is more of a strategic and positional game with less emphasis on tactics.
  • Arimaa is proposed as a more difficult challenge for AI than chess.

Why is Arimaa interesting for humans?

"Its rules are very simple, much simpler than chess -- kids can learn the rules in a few minutes. Yet with those simple rules you end up with a very strategic and interesting game."
-- David Wheeler
Linux Security Consultant

  • Rules are simple, intuitive and easy to learn.
  • Most anyone can learn to beat the computers with a little practice.
  • Due to the enormous number of choices on each move (over 17,000) the game feels much more open and exercises creative thinking.
  • There is much to explore and discover about the game since it is so new.
  • No possibility of draws; every match is settled with one of the players winning.
  • Equal winning chances for both players. Neither side has a distinguishable advantage.
  • No need to memorize openings since the starting position is not fixed. Requires on the spot thinking rather than memorization.
  • End game tables are not useful since games can end with all pieces on the board.
  • Computer cheating is not possible since humans are much better.
  • A yearly world championship tournament is held to determine the best human player.

Why are Arimaa games fun to watch?

  • Spectators are not disappointed by early or eventual draws, since draws are not possible.
  • Uses time controls that keep the game moving without rushing the players.
  • Nature of the game allows come backs resulting in dramatic and suspenseful games.
  • Both players have an equal chance of winning since there is no first move advantage.
  • Players are encouraged to fight to the very end; resigning is highly discouraged.

How can I play, download or take part in the Arimaa community?

  • It's easy to start playing Arimaa. You can play in the online gameroom against computers and other people in turn-based or live games; or you can play against a friend using a Chess set or an Arimaa set.
  • A growing collection of contributed software is available to download.
  • Players and fans can discuss the game through a public forum.
  • A complete database of all games since the very first game is available for research and analysis.
  • Arimaa has a growing community of active players and fans.
  • The Arimaa Public License grants unrestricted rights for personal, educational and research use of the game.



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