Modern Chess Is Experienced Through The Eyes Of A Computer

The AW was sitting in front of a laptop last Friday evening, surfin’ away, as they say…All week I had been following the games emanating from the 5th Marcel Duchamp Cup Chess tournament (http://fuajedrez.org/Torneos/Duchamp)

http://www.billwallchess.com/articles/duchamp.htm

being played in Montevideo, Uruguay. The first few moves caused me to reflect upon a time when the Mad Dog, or better, as he was called frequently, “Augie, the Mad Doggie.” The Dog liked to play against the Sicilian with the system seen in the following game, and frankly, the Dog’s results were not good, at least when facing higher rated opposition, yet he continued trotting out the same old beaten and battered nag and I could not help but wonder why…Then the American Grandmaster, Robert Hungaski, played his beautiful fifth move, leaving the path of the Mad Dog to enter the world of those of us who prefer to break the rule of never moving the Queen early, hoping to reel in his young opponent, IM Lucas Cora of Argentina, but it was this writer who was hooked, lined, and sinkered.

While watching the game I had reason to use the Duck,Duck,Go search engine while looking for something that escapes me now…when, Lo & Behold, there was something about the tournament being shown at lichess.org. Granted, I was a little late to the party at lichess.org, probably because when one ages he tends to go with the familiar. I had previously been to lichess.com, and had even looked for games being shown, but was unable to see them because I did not click onto “Broadcasts,” thinking a “broadcast” was a couple of announcers, which MUST include both a male and a female, no matter how lame the comments of the much lower rated female, usually named Eye Candy. I no longer watch, or listen to, broadcasts because the commentary is all about the “engine”. It was much better ‘back in the day’ when the analysis was by humans. So what if their analysis was inferior to what is being spouted by the programs; we still learned something, as did the broadcasters after being “corrected” by the all seeing and all knowing contraptions. Chess is vastly different than it was half a century ago, and not all of the changes have been good. What has been lost is human interaction. ‘Back in the day’ we would argue over moves and positions while learning something, and having a find ol’ time. Now all players invariably go to the oracle. Players have stopped thinking for themselves and play moves while having no clue why, other than the machine made the same move…

When watching games on most websites there is usually some kind of something moving about to inform the watcher what kind of move was just made. What follows is taken from the second chapter, Chess, of the excellent new book by Oliver Roeder, Seven Games,

https://free.4reads.live/show/book/58085257/seven-games-a-human-history/12505176/be80a798/14f9b3ff943b5ba/#

which will be reviewed here later, after all of the book has been completely read:

“The pros aren’t the only ones the machines affect. For the viewer, the amateur chess fan (me very much included), modern chess is experienced through the eyes of a computer. Abutting the image of the professionals’ board on match broadcasters such as Chess.com, Chess24.com, and Lichess.com is a simple diagram, a sort of thermometer, filled to some extent with white and to some extent with black. This represents, a powerful computer’s evaluation of the position measured in the equivalents of a pawn. A reading like +2.3 means whiter is clearly ahead; something like -0.5 means perhaps black has a small edge.”

“This has democratized chess fandom. Without a computer, I don’t have much hope of understanding the intricate lines in a game between two grandmasters, or the exact implications of this move versus that move. With a computer, I have a quantitative lens through which to view the game. I can see exactly what threats are looming and whom the computer deems to be winning. I can watch the thermometer twitch up or down with each move and pass some quasi-informed judgement on the pros. But this understanding is often hollow. Take the computer and its thermometer away, and I risk being more lost than I ever was.”

“TAKE THE COMPUTER AND ITS THERMOMETER AWAY, AND I RISK BEING MORE LOST THAN I EVER WAS.”

Cogitate on that statement briefly while asking yourself what it means…It appears there is now a generation of human beings who no longer think for themselves. Millions of players now make moves having little, if any, knowledge or understanding of the game. Monkey see, monkey do.

Sometime during the early middlegame I stopped surfin’ and focused only on the game, straining my tired, old brain in a vain attempt to find a move. It was then I fell in love with Lichess, because unlike other Chess websites, at Lichess one can CLICK OFF the THERMOMETER! That’s right, now one can watch the game as it was meant to be displayed. Or to say it the way it was so eloquently said by SM Brian McCarthy, “Just give me the meat!” Any time you want to check your analysis against that of Stockfish you can just simply click onto the analysis. I like followchess.com, but if you happen to miss a round there is no way to return to those games, which can easily be accomplished at Lichess.com. Sorry, followchess, but you have lost me to lichess. There are myriad websites giving the moves and there is a struggle to see which website is the most fit and will stand the test of time. Like Stockfish, Lichess is an open source website, so it will be around for some time. The websites that charge an arm and a leg to join are in a death struggle and it will be interesting to see which one(s) survive.

IM Lucas Coro 2355 vs GM Robert Hungaski 2537
5th Marcel Duchamp Cup
B40 Sicilian defence

  1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. g3 Nc6 4. Bg2 Nf6 5. Qe2 d5 6. exd5 Nxd5 7. O-O Be7 8. Rd1 Qb6 9. d3 O-O 10. c4 Nf6 11. Nc3 Rd8 12. Rb1 Bd7 13. a3 Be8 14. h4 a6 15. Qe1 Qb3 16. Be3 Ng4 17. Bg5 Bf6 18. Ne4 Bxg5 19. Nfxg5 Qb6 20. b4 cxb4 21. axb4 h6 22. Nf3 Qc7 23. d4 Ne7 24. Nc5 Nf6 25. Ne5 Ra7 26. Ra1 Nf5 27. Nb3 Nd7 28. Na5 Nxe5 29. dxe5 Rxd1 30. Qxd1 b6 31. Nb7 Rxb7 32. Bxb7 Qxb7 33. Qd8 Kf8 34. b5 axb5 35. Ra8 Qe7 36. Qxb6 g5 37. hxg5 bxc4 38. gxh6 Nxh6 39. Qc6 Nf5 40. Qxc4 Kg8 41. Qg4+ Ng7 42. Kh2 Qd7 43. Qg5 Qc6 44. Rd8 Qa4 45. Qe7 Kh7 46. Rb8 Qd4 47. Kg2 Bc6+ 48. Kh3 Qxe5 49. Qh4+ Nh5 50. Rb4 Qf5+ 51. Qg4 Qd5 52. Kh4 Nf6 0-1
    (https://live.followchess.com/#!copa-marcel-duchamp-2022/-626801633)(https://lichess.org/broadcast/5th-montevideo-open–marcel-duchamp-cup-2022/round-8/ckCnjhfB)
  1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. g3 Nc6 4. Bg2 Nf6 5. Qe2 (According to the ChessBaseDataBase this move has been played in 1108 games, and it is the choice of Deep Fritz 14 x64. It has scored 51% against 2440 opposition. The second most popular move, 5 d3, has scored 52% versus 2429 rated opponents, and Stockfish 14 @depth 47 figures it best. The third most popular move has been 5 Nc3, with 329 examples contained within the CBDB, which together have scored only 49% facing some guys averaging 2411. Oh yeah, AND Stockfish 14.1 @depth 51 considers it to be the best move in the position) 5…d5 (This has been the third most often played move according to the CBDB, with 310 examples that have scored a collective 59% for White versus a composite 2409 rated opponent. The second most popular move has been 5…d6, holding that hypothetical 2435 dude playing White to 53% in 347 games. Then there is the most popular move, 5…e5, which has held opponents with an average rating of 2480 playing White to only 45%!) 6. exd5 Nxd5 7. O-O Be7 8. Rd1 Qb6 9. d3 (This move cannot be found at either 365Chess or the CBDB, which can mean only one thing…Theoretical Novelty! The most often played move has been 9 c3. Stockfish 14 would play 9 a4, a move yet to be attempted by a titled human Chess player…)