Opening Tendencies

At the beginning of my career I modelled my repertoire to Bobby Fischer’s. Not too original, I must admit, but I was so in love with his 6-0s, complete domination and uncompromising attitude that I couldn’t help myself!

While studying his repertoire I noticed an important distinction between his white and black repertoire. When he was White he was more likely to vary his lines, for example against 1…e5 he could choose the King’s Gambit, 3 Bc4 and the Ruy Lopez, where he could further choose to play the main lines or the Exchange Variation.

Against the Caro-Kann he was notoriously undecided – from the main lines with 3 Nc3, to the Exchange with 3 ed, to the KIA with 2 d3 and his old favourite Two Knights with 2 Nc3 and 3 Nf3.

In the Sicilian, apart from the trusted Sozin with Bc4 in various modifications, he also used the Rauzer (in the match with Spassky) and also the Keres Attack against the Scheveningen, the Fianchetto against the Taimanov, even the sharpest 6 Bg5 against the Najdorf (famously against Geller, a game he lost).

Things were different when he was Black, but only against 1 e4. There it was the Najdorf and little else. There was a brief flirting with 1…e5 in the early 60s, but from then on, and until the match with Spassky, it was Najdorf only (with a few Alekhine Defences sparkled in).

Against 1 d4 he was keen to change more. From the King’s Indian and the Grunfeld to the Nimzo and QGD/Semi-Tarrasch. Even the sharp Benoni when required. With this outline in mind let us now take a look at how the modern players are approaching the choice of openings.

Surprisingly (or not, if you like to view Fischer as decades ahead of his time!), their approach is almost identical to Fischer’s. The only difference is their preference of 1…e5 to the Najdorf, although the brave French knight with two surnames is the honorable exception. In fact, he has an almost Fischer-like (or perhaps Kasparov-like) repertoire, with the Najdorf against 1 e4, the Grunfeld against 1 d4 and with White 1 e4 (and then varying his approach in the sub-lines).

Kramnik, Aronian and Carlsen (who settled into this approach after having his tries with other openings earlier in his career and who is more prone to change than the other two) are exclusive devotees to 1…e5 while against 1 d4 they do vary a bit, even though this variation is all within the most solid openings: the QGD/Semi-Tarrasch (re-introduced in  modern practice by Kramnik at the London Candidates in 2013 and popular ever since), the Slav and the Nimzo.

With White they are more flexible, Carlsen choosing both open and closed games while Kramnik and Aronian sticking to closed systems but changing their approach quite often. You could extend this analysis to other players like Anand, Nakamura, Karjakin, Caruana and others, where you will see modifications, but the main strategy is almost always the same.

This short analysis paints a clear picture of how the majority of modern players construct their repertoires: with Black against 1 e4 they rely on one opening, which they have studied well and are not afraid to use against any preparation their opponents might throw at them. Against 1 d4 they do vary a bit more (or stick to the Grunfeld, as in Vachier’s case) but always within the limits of the most solid openings.

With the state of modern theory being such that it is impossible to obtain an advantage with White, when they play White they are mainly going for the hit-and-run approach, choosing a line or idea suitable for one game, with the hope to surprise their opponents. Hence the need for frequent change in their openings and lines.

With Black, using the achievements of modern theory that shows no advantage for White, they are sticking to one solid opening as if tauting white to go forward and give them a chance from a counterattack.

Limiting your opening choices with Black has also the practical advantage of not scattering your attention because even within that one opening you choose there is so much to study. In this case it is a case of depth over width.

With White is the other way round – width over depth – more openings are studied but with less depth since the aim is to use an idea or variation in only one game.

This is modern chess, it requires constant work and stream of ideas!

CONTINUE READING

Candidates 2018 Preview

With all the players deeply immersed in preparation for the most important tournament of the year, and with Wijk and Gibraltar behind us, it is time to take a look at each player’s chances and prospects.

Of the 8 players only Ding Liren and Grischuk didn’t play anything in the new year. So let’s start with them.

I am very much looking forward to Alexander Grischuk’s participation. He is one of the deepest and most original thinkers, especially in the openings. I will only mention two of his latest ideas that had a big impact on modern theory – one is the move …Bc5 in the English Opening after 1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Nf3 Nc6 4 g3 d5 5 cd Nd5 6 Bg2:

and the other, again in the English, and as early as move 2 (!) 1 c4 e5 2 d3, which he used to beat Anand in 2015. He also expressed his desire for the latter to be called by his name – after all, you don’t get to invent new ways as early as move 2 nowadays! I am curious what he will come up with in the openings this time. With White, he mixed the theoretical approach of going for the main lines with the non-theoretical (London System, Reti etc.). It is likely that he (like everybody else!) will tailor his approach to every opponent so we may see again a mixture of both. With Black against 1 e4, apart from the inevitable Berlin when wanting to play safe, he will undoubtedly come up with something else. In the last few years he was successful with the Sveshnikov Sicilian, but his latest Sicilian games have been in the Taimanov with transpositions to the Scheveningen. Against 1 d4 he has been experimenting lately, but the Grunfeld, an integral part of his repertoire since the Candidates matches in 2011, is definitely a possibility. All of these choices (and this applies for every player) will depend on his strategy for the tournament and also on the people he will work with (his decision to play the Grunfeld in 2011 was a result of him having Peter Svidler as a second). Apart from his opening originality, Grischuk is a player who is notorious for his time-troubles and this will both add to the excitement and harm his chances. Even though I am a big fan of Grischuk, I don’t see him winning the tournament, mostly because of his time-troubles. In order to stand a chance he will need to be in the form of his life, like in the Petrosian Memorial in 2014 which he won with 5.5/7 and crossed 2800. Let’s see if he manages – if he does, I for one won’t complain!

Ding Liren is the biggest mystery to me from all the 8 participants. A player with fantastic technique, excellent opening preparation and quite a resilient nervous system – his last round wins in the Sharjah Grand Prix over Aronian and in the Moscow Grand Prix over Gelfand were major factors in his qualification for the Candidates. On the other hand, he lost matches to So and Grischuk in 2016and Giri in 2017, so perhaps he needs to work to improve in situations with prolongued tension. He will have all the resources of China to aid him in his preparations. His opening preparation seems to be more limited than that of the others, his mainstay with Black is the Marshall against 1 e4 and the Semi-Slav with the Nimzo against 1 d4, while with White he is mostly a 1 d4 player. It can be expected that he will expand or change his openings, though I don’t expect him to change his manner of play. But only with great technique it will be impossible to win games in this field and for now I cannot see what can that extra spark be that will help him introduce something novel and give him a playing edge in the games. I don’t see him winning the tournament, but I do expect to have a better understanding of Ding Liren as a player.

All the other players had some practice in January so there is fresh information about them to be analysed.

One of my favourite players on the circuit is Vladimir Kramnik. Big Vlad had a very exciting Wijk, winning 6 games, more than anyone else, but also losing 2. Kramnik will undoubtedly come with fantastic preparation and I can only guess what novel concepts he will introduce. The only thing I think he will keep is the Berlin against 1e4. Against 1 d4 I think he will introduce new ideas within the already well-established openings in his repertoire as I don’t see him taking up the Grunfeld! I am more interested to see what he will do with White. He has been a proponent of the non-theoretical approach, like starting with 1 Nf3 and doing a double-fianchetto, and even though he still analyses these “offbeat” lines deeply, I am not sure this is the way to go in every game of the tournament. So I expect to see him mix it up, after all he has amassed such a big amount of opening analysis over the years! But Kramnik’s problems won’t be the openings, it will be his ambition. With Carlsen’s emergence and his insistence on playing until the end and looking for the tiniest chances, Kramnik successfully adapted and adopted this approach himself, becoming one of the most uncompromising players. His infinite belief in his abilities that he can beat anybody is perhaps natural for somebody who has been a World Champion and beaten Kasparov, but there is only one problem with it – he cannot keep that level of play, concentration and determination in every single game. There are too many ups and downs in his play and Wijk was an excellent example – he had two very bad games, the ones he lost to Giri and Karjakin and he had a few (just) bad games, the ones he didn’t win against Jones and Hou Yifan and the last round game he won against Adhiban (from a losing position). These are 5 games out of 13! In his desire to win he also made mistakes and dubious sacrifices in his games with Matlakov and So. With these two it is half the tournament! This kind of instability will not go unpunished in Berlin. I think that the Big Vlad of old, the stable and solid player who dethroned Kasparov would have more chances. But can he change his approach and adapt after years of “living dangerously”? If anybody can, it is Kramnik. But I am not entirely sure that he will see the need for it. And therein lies the core issue that will impede his chances of winning. This time his over-confidence and ambition will work against him. As much as I would like to see him win the tournament, I am afraid I have to say that he won’t. Though I can still hope…

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov had a wonderful year. His rise to the number 2 in the world with an impressive 2814 on the February list speaks for itself. Shakh has always been a very dynamic and aggressive player and while that gave him irresistible force, he was always susceptible to instability. This instability wasn’t only in his chess, it was also a psychological factor, when he couldn’t bring himself to defend for long periods and be resilient. But these things changed with certain important developments in his personal life. He got married (for a second time), quit alcohol and started playing “boring chess” (in his own words). These events brought Shakh what he needed most – stability. Now he is a much more complete player who won’t always go for a win at all costs. He has kept his aggression but this time it is a controlled one. He is also more relaxed and doesn’t consider the Candidates as a “must-win” tournament. This approach should alleviate the tension that will undoubtedly be felt by all participants. While the openings were never his main strength, he has introduced some novelties in his repertoire, like the Ragozin Defence with Black (in which he beat Svidler in 21 moves) and the Catalan with White. He also successfully used the element of surprise in his game with So, using the Nimzowitch Variation in the Sicilian (1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nf6) daring So enter wild complications in the main line. So, being unprepared for this, understandably declined and Mamaedyarov didn’t have problems to draw. Whereas Mamedyarov quickly fell out of contention in the previous Candidates tournament he played in 2014 due to instability at the start (he started with 0.5/3), the new Mamedyarov will not repeat the same mistake. If he can keep the same form as in Wijk, coupled with good preparation and wisely using the element of surprise Mamedyarov will be in serious contention. I still don’t think he will win, but it will be exciting to see him add another dimension to the tournament.

Wesley So on the other hand is an epitomy of stability. And stability will be a very important factor in Berlin. His tournament will depend on whether he manages to win a game or two. If he does he may as well win the tournament, but if he gets stuck and starts making draws he can easily replicate Giri’s 14 draws from Moscow 2016. The Candidates tournaments in 2013, 2014 and 2016 were all won with a result of +3 (8.5/14). Such “dense” tournaments work well for players who don’t win (and lose) a lot of games so even though being a newcomer in the field (all the others apart from Ding Liren have already played in a Candidates tournament) Wesley So shouldn’t find it any different from the usual tournaments he plays. In Wijk he introduced small changes to his repertoire: with Black he changed the line in the Catalan (instead of the main line he went for 4…dc 5 Bg2 Nc6 against Matlakov, though he did revert back to the main line against Kramnik) and surprised Anand with the Open Spanish while with White he tried the sideline 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 g6 3 Nbd2 against Svidler in an attempt to avoid the Grunfeld. He is usually excellent in the opening and he will introduce some adjustments to his well-established repertoire. I expect him to be the same player as before – solid and not taking many risks. Can he win it? It is possible.

Sergey Karjakin had a relatively successful Wijk, winning two games, against Kramnik and Caruana, and drawing the rest. This was his first decent result in classical chess ever since the Sinquefield Cup last year where he scored 5/9, another decent result. His other results were far from decent, to put it mildly, but Karjakin’s focus since the match with Carlsen has been on promoting himself and milking out the maximum of his status and not on playing good chess. The result in Wijk may play a trick on Karjakin if he thinks that all is well because he managed to beat two of his competitors in Berlin. The main danger lies if he thinks that after a year of mediocrity he can rise to the occasion and perform at his best in Berlin. I would like to draw a parallel here. When preparing for his match with Spassky in 1972, after carefully analysing his games Fischer came to the conclusion that the level of Spassky’s play in the last year had deteriorated and he was now a weaker player than before. After the match Fischer said that Spassky played as he expected he would, i.e. on his lower level leading to the match. What I’m trying to say is that it is next to impossible for a player to drastically improve and raise his level after a prolongued period of mediocrity. Even though Karjakin will prepare very seriously I don’t see him as a candidate to win the tournament. His honeymoon period, which started with his win in the Moscow Candidates in 2016, will end in Berlin and he will have nowhere to hide – then we will see the true character of Sergey Karjakin. If he manages to get back to his best and return to the fight for the top places in the tournaments he is playing in or continues to freeload and just be one of the many.

Fabiano Caruana had a nightmare in Wijk. Losing 4 games and winning only 1 (in which he was also losing) is not something we expect of a player of Caruana’s caliber. This is even more surprising as it comes only a few weeks after his triumph in the London Classic in December. How will this bad result affect his play in Berlin? I don’t think it will. After suffering a serious setback the intelligent player will draw very important conclusions from it and will adjust accordingly not to repeat the same mistakes again. Additionally, after a catastrophe like Caruana’s Wijk, a player is more likely to be more careful in his next tournaments. I see this as a very positive development for Caruana’s chances in Berlin because, as I noted above, stability will be key in winning the tournament. And extra care can only be welcome. There is also a historical parallel to Caruana’s situation. In 2008, a month before his match with Kramnik in Bonn, Anand played a very bad tournament in Bilbao, finishing last with a -2 score on 4/10. And we all know how he played in Bonn. To conclude, I don’t think Caruana’s disaster in Wijk will affect his chances. What may affect them though, is his lingering problem with realisation of an advantage. In 2016 in Moscow he ruined his chances of winning the tournament by failing to win from winning positions in Rounds 11 (against Topalov) and 13 (against Svidler). He also had problems with this aspect last year, but surely he must have worked on this very hard and will pay special attention to it in his preparations. Speaking of openings, last year Caruana introduced the Queen’s Gambit Accepted and the Petroff Defence to his repertoire. This is an obvious attempt to be more solid with Black and the results have been pretty good so far, even though he suffered in a few endgames in the QGA (the line with 7 dc) and lost to Anand in the Petroff in Wijk. But he also introduced the Taimanov Sicilian in which he won an important game against Karjakin in London. This shows that he has flexibility with Black and can adapt his choices based on the situation. With White, even though primarily a 1 e4 player, he has also been experimenting with 1 c4, 1d4 with then either taking the route of normal theory or playing an odd London System. Caruana is stable psychologically, but has a more incisive style than So. Can he win it? Yes.

Levon Aronian was another player, beside Mamedyarov, to have a wonderful 2017. Coming out of the shadows after a lousy period he had excellent results and firmly re-established himself as a formidable force. He played in Gibraltar instead of Wijk, but he needed no less grit to win an open than it is required to win a Wijk. In 2017 Aronian’s main strength turned out to be his psychological resilience, something that was severely lacking in his previous decisive moments, particularly notable in the Candidates of 2013, 2014 and 2016. Aronian qualified for Berlin by winning the World Cup, the only person to achieve the feat two times. In a tournament when practically every game is a decisive one Aronian’s new-found inner strength carried him all the way to the finish line. Aronian is the only player to have played in all the Candidates tournaments since 2013, but this time it will be different for him. Previously he always started well only to spoil it later on as the tension was rising. With the recent experience from the World Cup he will know how to play in such circumstances. While the ghosts from the past will come back to haunt him, this time he seems better equipped to deal with them. Aronian’s repertoire is limited, especially with Black, when he sticks to the Berlin and the Marshall against 1 e4 and the Nimzo/Slav/QGD complex against 1 d4. He varies more with White, choosing between 1 d4 and 1c4. I don’t expect him to change his openings, but I do expect him to introduce new ideas in them. Aronian’s chess talent is one of the brightest and coupled with his newly found inner peace that brings him stability when it matters most, he is definitely one of the main contenders. Can he win it? Yes.

These are my thoughts on the most important tournament of 2018. Please share your thoughts in the comments.

CONTINUE READING

Information

Dear visitor,

You have probably noticed that my blog has suffered serious damage in the last two weeks. The reasons for this were technical (let’s call them like that).

The most important thing is that the content is intact so you can freely browse through the blog as before. If by any chance you find a link that doesn’t work please let me know.

The blog is now “under construction.” This means that it needs to be re-build and I am working on it together with a friend of mine. It will probably take a while before it gets back to normal.

So far what I have done is that I moved to another server and I have a new theme running. I will intend to keep the general look more or less the same.

I thank you for your patience and understanding and I apologise for the inconvenience of coming to this page and seeing the same stuff again and again in the last 2 weeks. I hope to be able to make this up to you by providing great content in 2018!

CONTINUE READING

Happy New Year!

Wishing all my readers a happy and prosperous New Year!

 

CONTINUE READING

The Macedonian Variation

A few days ago I received an email from Mr Paul Samson Topacio, a member of my Inner Circle, where he informed me of the existence of a Macedonian Variation in the English Opening.

I consider myself a well-educated and knowledgeable chess player, but this was a complete surprise as I didn’t know of such a thing. I knew that a long time ago the New In Chess Yearbook called the Macedonian Variation a line in the Taimanov Sicilian due to several victories by several Macedonian players, myself included:

 


But a Macedonian Variation in the English?

I asked him and Paul sent me the link where he discovered the name. In fact, it was chess.com’s German version that called the line Mazedonisch Variation! Check it out yourself. How they arrived at the name is a mystery to me. Perhaps the readers can help solve this enigma.

In the meantime I present short analysis of the Mazedonisch Variation. It is notable that the move 3 f4 was first played by the great Paul Keres in his match against Paul Schmidt in 1936. As I write in the comments, the move looks like it came from the King’s Gambit! Keres was famous for using the King’s Gambit, especially in his younger years, and this looks like an attempt to blend the English Opening and the King’s Gambit! Quite a brave and original idea…

After some analysis of the variation my conclusion is that the line is entirely playable, especially in faster time controls when Black doesn’t have the time to understand what’s going on!

 


 

 

CONTINUE READING

Tactics For Beginners

The chess learning site Chessable I am actively cooperating with, recently released a new book that completes the site’s coverage of all the phases of a chess game.

Chessable is primarily an opening-learning platform (and it has a large number of available books on openings to be learnt there) but some time ago they also introduced an endgame book on the endgames you must know. With their latest inclusion, 1001 Chess Exercises for Beginners, they covered the middlegame as well. I am quite happy that Chessable grew to an extent to cover all the phases of the game!

The new book, written by Franco Masetti and Roberto Messa and published by New In Chess, is a very handy guide to the basic tactical motifs a chess player must be familiar with. To be honest with you, I am never quite sure how a certain motif is called (deflection, decoy etc.) but I can assure you that I can spot them immediately! I find the main advantage of the book in the systemisation of the motifs and providing the reader with a lot of examples to drill those in, thus committing them to memory (the motifs, not necessarily the names!). If you add to this Chessable’s unique learning algorithm, you have a winning combination (pun intended) and a fast track to tactical mastery.

The book opens with relatively easy Mate in 1 exercises, followed by Mate in 2. Then the main tactical motifs follow and the book ends with Mixed Motifs for both White and Black and then with Mate in 3, Mate in 4 and Curiosities. As the title suggests there are 1001 exercises but they are quickly solved and time flies doing them.

The Introduction begins with “Chess in 99% tactics!” and I couldn’t agree more. In fact that is what players of all ages and strengths are doing when trying to get into shape – they solve tactical exercises. True, the ones Carlsen solves will differ from the ones I solve, but the core is the same. If you want to get better and get into a right frame of mind for a good game of chess, you must follow down the path of tactical work. There is simply no other way.

1001 Chess Exercises for Beginners

CONTINUE READING

Merry Christmas!

Wishing all my readers a happy festive season and the best of times!

Here’s an enjoyable game that you won’t find in the database. It was played in the French Nationale 1 against a solid French IM.

 

CONTINUE READING

An Exclusive Interview with Boris Gelfand

During the European Club Cup in Skopje in 2015 I had the bright idea to conduct interviews with the elite players. One of the best interviews was with the wonderful Boris Gelfand.

Boris agreed to meet us (me and my very good friend Kiril Penushliski, a PhD and an avid chess aficionado) after the tournament and we spent a few good hours walking in the park and talking about chess, life, Universe and pretty much everything else.

It is probably long overdue, I should have published this gem long time ago, but the initial plan was to have the interview transcribed and publish it in a written version. Alas, this never materialised, so I decided to publish the audio version.

I would like to thank Boris for giving us this opportunity to talk to one of the best chess players in the world. He answered truthfully and at length, it was sheer delight to talk about chess with somebody who has seen and done it all.

You can enjoy the interview following this link.

 

CONTINUE READING

Caruana, Nepo and Carlsen Win in London 2017

Things changed quickly in London after the first half of the tournament. Unsurprisingly, people stopped complaining about the draws.

After Caruana’s two in a row it was Nepomniachtchi who improved on it and scored three in a row! He was helped by Adams’s “Christmas presents” (his own words). In a drawn rook endgame 2 vs 1 on one wing Adams blundered and lost.

 

 

Nepo then went on to beat Anand, who had a bad tournament, and none other than the World Champion. It was a shocking collapse for the World Champion – he played the game well up to a moment, but then what happened is impossible to explain. When you see the World Champion make beginner’s blunders the only thing you can do it scratch your head in disbelief.

 


 

While Carlsen did play the second part of the tournament with a severe cold, this is in no way an excuse for the blunders he committed. To his credit, even though visibly shocked by the loss and with more blunders to come in his last round game with Aronian, the World Champion did manage to win that game and finish on a shared third with 5/9. This lack of stability in his game has become quite a plague for Carlsen in the last year or so and he doesn’t seem to have found a way to deal with it. Still, even with those problems he easily holds his rating and the others don’t seem to be capable to catch up.

Carlsen was also the winner of the Grand Chess Tour 2017, thanks to his dominance in the rapid and blitz sections. In these formats he dominates as he did in classical chess. I wonder whether he can dominate in classical again…?!

Caruana’s last round must-win situation was playing White against Adams. In his own words, he would have accepted the repetition had Adams repeated, but Adams played on! Things really must go your way if you are to win a tournament! Adams not only played on, he also blundered (his last Christmas present in London) and Caruana secured a tie-break with Nepomniachtchi.

The tie-break was dominated by the American, especially the blitz games (the two rapid games were drawn). Caruana doesn’t have a great reputation as a rapid/blitz player, while Nepo does, but he has been improving in this aspect as well. He’s beaten Nakamura and Grischuk in matches with faster time controls, so he shouldn’t be underestimated. Still, what he didn’t win in the first blitz game is no less shocking than what Nakamura didn’t win against Carlsen earlier in the tournament. It seems being a piece up is no guarantee to win anymore…

 

Nepomniachtchi-Caruana, first blitz game

 

The missed chance didn’t seem to disturb Caruana too much. He went on to win the second blitz game convincingly. Now compare that to the position from Nakamura-Carlsen.

 

Nakamura-Carlsen, Round 6

 

Well, at least these guys provided some comfort to us lesser mortals, who sometimes fail to win with a big positional advantage.

As a personal observation, what the London Chess Classic showed is that Karjakin doesn’t stand a chance to play well in the Candidates. He’s been having too many bad results and it is impossible to just suddenly wake up, play fantastic chess and win a tournament as serious as the Candidates. Which probably makes Caruana the favourite, but I will write in more detail about the Candidates after Tata Steel and Gibraltar (where almost all the Candidates are playing, 5 in Wijk and 2 on the Rock, only Ding Liren is not playing anywhere).

CONTINUE READING

London Chess Classic 2017 Underway

More than half the tournament passed in London and there is an outcry in the public on the number of draws. Only two decisive results from 25 games, incidentally, both these games were won by Caruana.

People are complaining, the talks of the “drawing death of chess” is immediately back, the usual suspects are pushing their ideas of abandoning classical chess and moving onto rapid and blitz.

There are 23 drawn games out of 25. And my question is: so what?

I am not even going into the arguments that chess is basically a drawish game, that much we all know. What I would like to point out is that another tournament with the same people at another point in time may as well have more than 50% decisive games. These people are trying the best they can at the given circumstances and sometimes it just doesn’t work out.

They are the best players in the world, they all want to beat each other, they try their best, but more often than not they fail because the other player is doing the same! There is an infinite number of factors that influence these things, current form, physical condition, opening preparation, state of mind and also plain luck. The bottom line is that simply there are tournaments like this and we have to accept that fact. If the games are well-fought and you can see the players trying hard, there is nothing more we can ask of them.

Speaking of the death of chess, a ground-breaking Alpha Zero program crushed Stockfish 8 in a 100-game match, winning 28 games and drawing the rest. There are certain moot points here, like the strength of the hardware the engines were using (incomparably stronger for Alpha Zero), the time control of 1 minute per move and the openings used by Stockfish (and no opening book for it), but that is all beside the point. The main point is that Alpha Zero was only taught the rules of the game and then was left alone to learn the game by itself. It did it by using the Monte Carlo simulation, i.e. playing a mind-bogglingly huge number of games with itself and learning along the way. In a matter of hours (some say 4h, some say 24h, any way equally impressive) it reached a level good enough to annihilate one of the best engines in the world.

This is an actual Artificial Intelligence, capable of learning by itself and dominating such a complex game like chess. The fact that it managed to do it in such a short amount of time makes it even more incredible.

To wrap this up, I offer two excerpts. One of the best humans playing chess and the other of the best computers doing the same. Judge them yourself.

 


 

For the computer game I will only comment with exclamation marks to show my amazement at the moves. Enjoy and learn if you can.

 

CONTINUE READING
1 2 3 44