Checkers Program Proved Invincible,

reports the New York Times; this also shows that checkers is guaranteed to be a draw if both players play optimally. Of course, it must also be the case that chess played optimally is a draw, that chess played optimally is a win for white, or that chess played optimally is a win for black (though the smart money isn't betting on that last one). It's just that we don't know the answer to that yet, or have a program that is guaranteed to win (or not to lose, if the optimal play yields a draw).

Note that, to be precise,

The new research proves that Chinook is invincible in the traditional game of checkers. But in most tournament play, a match starts with three moves chosen at random. In solving the traditional game, the researchers have also solved 21 of the 156 three-move openings, leaving a crack of hope for humans, at least for now.

Though of course that's not much of a crack, given that it seems likely that a computer program will very soon be able to optimally play all the games yielded by those openings, and lose only if the opening is inherently unwinnable and undrawable for it.

Thanks to my friend and computer science professor Haym Hirsh for the pointer.