The new findings give researchers an even better understanding of chimpanzees.
"The fact that chimpanzees track their opponents more carefully, (and) gain a competitive edge when they can, illustrates how all species can be surprisingly well adapted to challenges which are crucial for their lives, and less important for (humans)," said Colin Camerer, a behavioral economist at Caltech. "It should humble us a little."
In game theory, there is a limit to how many times a strategic game can be won based on how well a person can predict his or her opponent's move - a concept called the Nash equilibrium, named after mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr. (portrayed by Russell Crowe in the film "A Beautiful Mind"). The researchers found that the chimps were so good at the game that they came very close to hitting the theoretical limit for how many times the game can be won.
Next, the researchers will look at games that involve both competition and cooperation, as well as games with a number of stages, to see how well chimps' short-term memory can help them cooperate.