Friday, August 27, 2010

Chess and other things....

When I was young, in between dreaming of playing for Liverpool FC (or more reasonably elevating myself to first sub for the school football team), becoming a Rock-star,  or simply drooling over the girls in the upper sixth, life seemed to be so simple. I had been interested in chess for a few years and when a certain Mr. R Fischer started his fun and games at Reykjavic, that was it I was hooked.

At the time I remember one of the big questions posed to me - Is Chess an art or a Science or both?  Even then armed only with the arrogance of youth and an ill fitting uniform I thought this was absurd, surely it is about logic? - You may have an infinite amount of moves, but because all white or black responses are not reasonable then it is infinity minus a few. Of course that leads to more confusion and I confess here and now that I do not understand infinity, and certainly cannot comprehend any old monkey writing the complete works of Shakespeare. In my mind he always gets the very last letter wrong, and on the next attempt the second to last is incorrect, ad nauseam, until he starts all over again and simply never finishes it. If he does complete it does that not mean it is the end of the definition of infinity making it finite? A true paradox indeed.

Okay aplologies to all supporters of Morphy, Alekhine, Tal, Capablanca and many other notable chess characters who without doubt were artists in their own way and provided great entertainment, (I wonder if they ever drooled over the upper sixth girls?) but come on guys is it not pure logic?  Below I think is what a Super Computer will say in 2019 after we have moved away from Silicon and start to harness atomic power. This unit has 1,000 gig of RAM with 50.000 gig hard-drive in a mini pc the size of an ipod.

                                    White to Move, unavoidable mate in 57 moves

This always reminds me of another amusing quote -

If God was playing God at chess, white would probably win.

You guessed it I am rambling now, but let's go back to 1972 game one Spassky v Fischer and witness one of the classic 'miscalculations'  of all time from the man himself, Mr Fischer. Was it a blunder or just pure shock tactics, - or both? The only person who can answer that is now dead, but interestingly even now (prior to atomic computers), the same black move is made by Fritz and Rybka at deep levels Bxh2? Fischer hated draws and would rather lose? The ''artistic' temperament of the chess genius.

Why not even try it on your computer? - There are definitely drawing chances!

                                     Science or Art, who really cares?... just enjoy.

Okay that's all for now,  take care and see you soon.


  1. For chess, for example, if we take the effective branching factor to be 16 and the effective depth to be 100, then the number of branches in an exhaustive survey of chess possibilities would be on the order of 10^120 -- a ridiculously large number. In fact, if all the atoms in the universe had been computing chess moves at picosecond speeds since the big bang (if any), the analysis would be just getting started.

    Artificial Intelligence, 3rd edition, Patrick Henry Winston.

  2. Good old Patrick a man talking of gargantuan numbers in few words:))

  3. You can replay the Spassky-Fischer game here.

  4. Have a look at this Mark actual footage!