KindredSpirit’s Kaleidoscope: Chess Marches On

Development of the chess computer and experimental programs that found their way into the pages of Chess Review brought forth a number of letters from readers who voiced both positive and negative vibes that formed the two camps, with a few who presented the pro and con of the growing debate.  In those days, long past, it was assumed by many that it would take years of research and ideas by the tech community to reduce the size of a computer for use in the home known as a desk-top PC, let alone the later introduction of the lap-top computer.  Technology was off and running; chess as a tool used by the tech community from IBM to home start-ups helped make that a reality.  Then, it was the dream world of the master and grandmaster that it could never play well enough to beat one. That thought went on the trash heap of history in short order. 

One of the experiments was interesting.  The idea was to eliminate one rank and one file row and exclude the Queens as I recall.  With that, the computer seemed to do reasonably well and proved some strength on the limited square board. It made the play faster.

The biggest advance involved international correspondence chess play where great improvements were made in cc tournaments.  Postal chess events were supposed to exclude use of the computer in playing games but it was clear that the players were utilizing them in cc games once they became established as 2500 rating strength.  The number of 2400-2600 rated players skyrocketed. The popularity of being able to use the internet and transmit moves in seconds compared to the old ‘snail mail’ where move exchanges would take weeks and up to a month with some games lasting three years or more.  Some players consider such computer usage cheating and do not use them to choose moves.  The famous I. Golyak quit cc chess for that reason and plays strictly over-the-board events now.  I quit for the same reason and no longer active  due to medical reasons.

Computer chess is an ideal way to find a ready game for practice and to sharpen skill. But do not expect to win.

The top players today use the computer; in matches, they have assistance from top-level aides who work out play strategy on adjourned endgame positions.  Opening analysis is often determined by reviewing the openings used by the opponent and spend hours with computer assistance to evaluate and find even the littlest twists having merit.  For this reason I do not believe that the chess of the modern Grandmaster can compare to my hero Paul Keres or the earlier chess stars of differing historical periods.  Perhaps Robert Fischer said it best: “Every historical era had its share of great players who advanced the game.  Not until now has the art of chess play been formalized in a box of technology as well as a box of chessmen.

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      Hi!Kaspaarov is said to be the best chessplayer ever. However, in 1986 he lost in 25 min match and even stalemated his opponent in a simple winning position. Tal won the event. When I said I considered Paul Keres the greatest player I take into account a longevity from 1929-1975 where he played in most events even when not well and as he aged. He did not have the ego that some GMs had who quit because they were no longer in top form. Still, playing in almost all USSR GM tournaments, team matches and Olympiads, he amassed an enormous record 1980 games, 987 wins, 192 losses, 801 draws with wins and draws 1387.5. He did this almost entirely on his own or without vindictiveness as often seen by the hot headed Kasparov in a much shorter time span./Don.

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      Since I do not sell anything but write to educate the general public with chess history and hopefully to attract many to learn the game well enough to enjoy family fun playing is the joy I get from finding this way to reach an audience other than just chessplayers. Members of the chess community are a tiny speck in the millions who know little or nothing about the game./Don.

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