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buddy2 36 ( +1 | -1 )
Linares Boredom I was hoping for some exciting games in the Linares tournament, but so far, after three rounds only Leko has posted a win. A rusty Kasparov is trying his best, but the rest, Kramnik, et al are just "mailing in" their moves. I think we'll have to make a win worth 3pts, a draw one, to get these grandmasters to avoid taking the easy way out and destroying top-level chess.
jstack 5 ( +1 | -1 )
Who would have thought I thought Shirov-Kasparov was pretty exciting.
buddy2 18 ( +1 | -1 )
Kasparov is trying yeah, jstack, Kasparov seems to be the only one intent of mixing it up. A change in the scoring rules is inevitable, otherwise people won't watch--even dedicated chess players!
furryfunbundle 16 ( +1 | -1 )
Topalov Topalov should have bagged the points :-)

Maybe there is a gentlemans agreement for draws all round 'cept Lecko forgot the rules in the 1st round!!
atrifix 40 ( +1 | -1 )
Leko seems to be playing the best out of anyone so far, although he has had a bye and a quick draw with black against Kramnik to help him along. A change in the scoring rules won't help..the idea has been proposed before but really all you're doing is playing a variant of chess, not real chess. You can't really fault the super-GMs for not making mistakes (except Kramnik, who is averaging just under 20 move per game).
buddy2 55 ( +1 | -1 )
reasoning With all due respect, I don't understand your reasoning atrifix. The game is exactly the same. You're just rewarding those players willing to take a risk or unblance the position. I know this argument has been going on for years, but if somebody doesn't do something, there's going to be little interest in top level chess. There are examples historically, where scoring rules in sports have been changed, American football, for example and basketball. Isn't chess the only game or sport when two players can "agree" to draw?
peppe_l 116 ( +1 | -1 )
With all due respect Comparing chess to American football and basketball is, well, apples and oranges.

Draws are part of the game and as long as we are talking about "real" games instead of GM draws, the way I see it there is no reason to complain. Good game is more important than result and if chess fans prefer low-quality decisive games over high-quality draws, there are several amateur tournaments to observe. But still I cannot see chess magazines and sites covering C-class tourneys instead of Linares, and the funny thing is I cannot see chess fans demanding class tournaments instead of Kaspy and Kram.

I do not support different scoring system because it rewards players with agressive style.

I have stated out before that people want to play like GMs but expect them to play like amateurs = play unsound, over-agressive openings, go for crazy attacks, never exchange queens, rather lose than draw etc etc etc...

How can you please people who call exciting, hard fought draws "boring" simply because neither player screwed up badly enough to lose?
buddy2 68 ( +1 | -1 )
not sure Not sure your reasoning is correct, peppe_I. It only rewards agression, if the aggression is successful. If a good defensive player wins, he gets the three points, or whatever, and the agressive player gets zero for all his trouble. Apart from the obvious differences with football and basketball, one must admit that these are spectator sports. If chess is to become more spectator oriented, other than change the actual rules of the game, you have to change the scoring system. Of course, one doesn't have to do anything, always the easiest way. Let's give it a chance and see what happens! Start off with a few matches or tournaments. The sky won't fall in if it doesn't work.
atrifix 298 ( +1 | -1 )
Well, the pieces still move the same, but changing the payoffs basically changes the nature of the game. For example, I would imagine that almost all GMs would completely scrap the Berlin Defense and Petroff since they don't offer Black a whole lot of winning chances, and prefer something along the lines of the Sicilian Najdorf. A quick glance at my database gives Black wins at 24% in the Berlin, but nearly 35% in some lines of the Sicilian. You may say good riddance to the Berlin, but I don't really think that's for the TDs or spectators to decide. Kramnik had several great games with the Berlin in 2000 against Kasparov. Personally I am not prejudiced by the result, and I think this is true among the majority of chessplayers--some of the best games in the world have been draws. I should point out this point scoring system also provides more incentive for collusion (e.g., in a double round robin like Linares).

Yes, chess is one of the few games (along with checkers, etc.) where a player can simply offer a draw. This creates some problems, in my mind, the "GM draw" that has begun over the past half-century is a serious problem. But it's been shown that there's nothing you can do to stop this; if players want draws, they'll make draws...you can't stop people from playing into the perpetual check line of the Pirc or any other number of openings. I don't know what to do to stop "GM draws". No one has really proposed anything reasonable, and I don't know if there's anything you can do.

Third, chess will never become a spectator sport like basketball. It's not nearly interesting enough to watch, particularly if you don't know the game--you just watch 2 guys sit there, staring at a board, making a move every 5 minutes--not incredibly exciting. Even Capablanca said chess was played out and that there were too many draws, but interest in chess is now at an all-time high, far higher than it was in Capablanca's day (I believe the chess world would have been worse off with a change in the rules after Capablanca, as well). I think what ESPN is doing is great (although they might want to pick some games to broadcast other than the last game of a match), but watching chess will never be as exciting to the common man as basketball or football. If you can't calculate variations and understand what's going on, then what's the point?

This point system has already been tried in some small tournaments (I believe during the 80s), but I don't think the players really like it, so it never caught on. Maurice Ashley's suggestion of not allowing draw offers before move 50 was also tried even in very large tournaments in the 60s, but that pretty much quickly failed. I don't know if someone will ever come up with anything to prevent GM draws. I'd like to hear of any, but the idea seems fairly unrealistic.
caldazar 272 ( +1 | -1 )
On GM draws One idea I've kicked around (I'm sure someone else has probably already thought of the idea) is to incorporate a kind of chess overtime into tournament games, thereby always achieving decisive results and discouraging just coasting along until important rounds/games are reached. Essentially, a tournament game would be played out as normal with a win worth one point. If the result is a draw, each player would be awarded 1/3rd of a point and the game would go into overtime. Players would switch colors and play a new rapid/blitz/(whatever faster time control) game. The winner of the overtime game would receive the remaining 1/3rd of a point. If the overtime game is a draw, players switch colors again and start a second overtime game. And so on, until someone wins and secures the last 1/3rd of a point.

Of course, if you want to leave and hit the bar early, you can still offer a quick draw, play the overtime game(s), and be done with it. There will always be situations when the standings dictate that 1/3rd of a point is good enough. But if the competition if fierce, potentially conceding that 1/3rd of a point might be very risky for the sake of saving energy.

It would probably erode the quality of chess since now well-fought draws would hold less value. It's probably not fair for players to struggle for 60 moves in a sharp, unclear position, have the game end in a draw, and short-change one player by a fraction of a point because he's a poor blitz player. But from a commercial perspective, decisive results are desireable. There's no convenient way to eliminate agreed draws from chess (who wants to play a boring drawn endgame out for 50+ moves before an arbiter steps in and declares the game drawn). At the same time, you can't have the players aggreeing to end a match prematurely when you have loads of spectators watching (Kasparov - Deep Junior).

So I think it really depends on whether you want a "pure" game or a popular one. As it stands now, I agree with atrifix; watching professional chess is only interesting to die-hard chess fans, not casual or novice players. Heck, all things considered, I'd probably rather read a well-annotated game score a day after a match than sit in front of my television for 6 hours.

Still, selling chess as a spectator sport should be possible. They can sell golf, after all, which has many of the same problems generating viewer interest. With the help of good commentators providing annotation (chess instructors for club level players would be fine), I would think chess on mainstream TV should be possible.
buddy2 114 ( +1 | -1 )
more draws Fourth round Linares. Three more draws. Twelve games and only one win by Leko. It's conceivable that Leko could win with his one positive result. Playing over the games, you realize that MOST of the draws are hard fought. It's the short ones, by Kramnik (world champ?), for example that prejudices the whole result and shoves chess into the realm of checkers. I don't agree with Caldazar that "watching professional chess is only interesting to die-hard chess fans." I remember watching the Fischer-Spassky Iceland match, enthralled by the spectacle, following Shelby Lyman (God bless him) with a cheap plastic chess set when I barely knew the moves. I remember the gasps in the studio when Fischer played Nh5 in the third game and somebody saying Fischer had gone mad. Do you think the players at Linares play so well that chances like that no longer exist on the board? Kasparov is the only player to give this tournament any dramatic tension. The rest play like certified accountants. Very good accountants, but CPA's nonetheless.
anaxagoras 51 ( +1 | -1 )
My home computer also plays like a certified accountant, and eventually it will win matches against Kasparov...
Romantic chess is still heaving with death gasps?
The trouble is to remain romantic after you acquire so much knowledge about chess, after you realize that calculation and positional logic are what make for improvement, and not mystical inspiration.
We could have a club for people who promise not to study closed games or memorize variations. Who would join?
buddy2 79 ( +1 | -1 )
CPA's I shouldn't be trashing CPA's because like every other profession you get all types. I did mean a no risk style of play among other no-riskers makes for a boring tournament. Funny thing about computers. At the 2003 computer championship at Graz, Shredder, as you know came out on top with 9.5 out of 11. Only one draw!! I think it's a fallacy that draws are a result of supergrandmasters playing perfect games against each other. In chess there are almost limitless possibilities to go right or wrong or a billiion shades in-between. Every so often the chess imagination seems to come to a standstill and everyone says oh, Capablanca or Petrosian has plumbed the depths of the game, then a Tal or Fischer comes along and suddenly there are new depths to plumb. If that sounds romantic, so be it.
peppe_l 159 ( +1 | -1 )
Buddy2 "I remember watching the Fischer-Spassky Iceland match..."

But then you had political tension between USA and Soviet Union - American hero challenging Soviet chess domination :-)

Sure Fischer played great chess but in terms of public interest (especially among non-chess fans!) American vs Soviet 1972 was different from Russian vs Russian 2004...especially if you are American yourself :-)))

"Capablanca or Petrosian has plumbed the depths of the game, then a Tal or Fischer comes along and suddenly there are new depths to plumb. If that sounds romantic, so be it."

First of all I have to point out Tal and Fischer were completely different in terms of playing style. Tal was "romantic" chess player in several ways, like Morphy and Anderssen. Fischer??? No way. If one can look past superficial & false "agressive vs passive" argument, he was scientific and logical, clearly a follower of Steinitz - and Capablanca!

It is true both had less draws than most top players today, but in all fairness defensive skills of top players (other than top 1 or 2) have improved significantly, especially during early 80s. If you try Tal-style sacs today, it is most likely your opponent finds the correct defense. And if you try to outplay your opponents in equal endings like Fischer used to do, it is more likely they will actually succeed in _keeping_ it equal :-)

To put it simply, increasing amount of draws is NOT a result of top players attacking (or playing endings etc) less efficiently than Tal & co, it is a result of top players defending better than ever!



I do agree on GM draws though, no one likes "non-games" between GMs.


dysfl 252 ( +1 | -1 )
Draw is part of chess The drawishness is not just a problem of chess. Or, is it a problem at all?

I think, most of the one-on-one competition has that issue these days. Maybe we should enjoy, not grumble, the fact that we got so many near-perfect players in those areas.

Even martial arts has that issue. The judo match in Olympics are really boring, two killing machines are just standing there trying to grap the clothings and parrying the hands. In many cases, one or both contestants got penality points of being not aggressive. The UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship, mixed martial arts) has lost the awe factors of early days. It became male mud wrestling with ugly faces in short pants. Chiness chess has it.

One of the outstanding exception is Go, the board game played in Japan, Korea and China. I used to play Go for fun. History says that it was drawish with first moving side's advantage (balck stone in this case). Japanese invented the handicap, giving 5.5 or 6.5 points to the White. At the end, the points are added up for both sides and result will be decided by that. As the handicap is not a whole number, it is really rare to have a drawn game. Draw by agreement? It is a serious issue, and violators would be punished promptly and heavily. I don't remember any violation of this kind in several decades in professional Go tournaments. Just imagine two ML baseball teams agree to draw before or in the middle of the game. Never.

I think it is something we should accept as is. Chess is very different from Go or baseball. Chess is drawish by design. If you change some rules fundamental to chess, you can easily make it more dynamic. History tells us allowing two square pawn move from initial position changed a lot of things. You can allow the captured pieces to become yours (as in Japanese chess, Shogi) or allow Bishop jump over the pawns. Or Limit the King can only move forward and sideways. You can allow swapping initial positions for Bishops and Knights at will (as in Chinese Chess).

However, is it a chess as we know? I doubt it. For us, it is still a dynamic game. And I'm satisfied with it. For top-level players? Do they need our concerns or help in this issue? If so many draws may reduce their income, so be it. The reality is, that the professional chess playere are better off these days than we had less draws. I don't think average players should be much concerned about it. If you want non-drawish board games, check out Hasbro product lines.

peppe_l 128 ( +1 | -1 )
Dysfl Great post!

BTW, we had all-draw 5th round in Linares, BUT all 3 games were both hard fought and exciting.

"If you change some rules fundamental to chess, you can easily make it more dynamic. History tells us allowing two square pawn move from initial position changed a lot of things. You can allow the captured pieces to become yours (as in Japanese chess, Shogi) or allow Bishop jump over the pawns. Or Limit the King can only move forward and sideways. You can allow swapping initial positions for Bishops and Knights at will (as in Chinese Chess)."

As a fan of positional play I have to point out more "dynamic" means "more tactics, less strategy" - chess is already so tactical that it is VERY hard for amateurs like me not to screw up positionally won games :-)

As a rule, from the perspective of amateur player "boring" = "too subtle for me to understand" (if the position in a game between two GMs really IS boring, the chances are they have already agreed a draw :-)))

BTW this rule creates strange situations sometimes, you observe a game between two top GMs online and while everyone keeps repeating "it is gonna be another boring draw" (IMO everyone saying this deserves to be banned :-) GMs and IMs online talk about "interesting endgame"...
atrifix 383 ( +1 | -1 )
Draws Petrosian hardly plumbed the depths of the game, although Fischer might have. Petrosian uncovered numerous new ideas (chief among which is the modern idea of the Exchange), and in many ways was a lot more romantic than Fischer. With regards to draws, of course, Petrosian had far more than Fischer (and more than any other GM of his strength in history, I believe), while Fischer had very, very few draws.

I don't think Fischer is reducible to trying to outplay his opponent in equal endings, either. If he was he would have drawn a lot more games than he actually did. Fischer tried to master all phases of the game, opening, middle, and ending, and to strive for positions where he would achieve a slight advantage and then increase that advantage as the game went on. Sounds great, of course, if only I could get that in my games--but this is something like the style of play you see among top players today like Kramnik, Kasparov, etc.

"As a fan of positional play I have to point out more "dynamic" means "more tactics, less strategy" - chess is already so tactical that it is VERY hard for amateurs like me not to screw up positionally won games :-) "

Not necessarily. For example, suicide chess (once you get a handle on the tactics) is a lot more strategic than normal chess. Bughouse and gothic chess are more tactical. My guess is Fischerrandom can be either, but I don't have a good grasp of Fischerrandom theory.

The Fischer-Spassky match is an anomaly. Most of the people who were seriously interested in the match were your die-hard chess fans (by this I mean most people who take chess seriously, including amateurs. Spectators who don't know the rules are usually disinterested). The others were probably interested because of the money and prestige and because it was one of the greatest matches ever played. Honestly, I wish ESPN would broadcast some world championship reunification matches (where you will always get a decisive result) as opposed to these 6-game Man vs. Machine money bouts. But that's probably too much to hope for.

I should point out, as a courtesy to the less mathematically fortunate, that a point scoring system of loss = 0, draw = 1, win = 3 has no effect in matches, only tournaments, since the player with a plus score always wins matches.

The overtime or weighting idea is interesting, but probably completely unfair. It'd be interesting to see Black draws weighted as 0.53 and White draws weighted as 0.47, but I doubt that'll happen.

I don't really see draws as a problem because all signs point to the fact that, with best play, the game will end in a draw after any large number of optimal moves. Eventually, it is conceivable that chess will be solved and then the game will be obsolete and all those years of studying the Dragon theory will be wasted. I don't really see this as a problem because 1) by the time amateur players are on the same level as superGMs, it will probably be long after my lifetime, 2) as the game progresses, the end goal is truth and optimal strategies, not a decisive result. Eventually, the game theory will exhaust chess as it has exhausted tic-tac-toe and Connect Four, and then most people will stop playing the game, although perhaps some insight will come out of it. As you near that point, a change in the rules becomes necessary, but I don't think we are close enough to address it. And I imagine it would have to be more drastic than changing the payoffs to have any real impact.

And finally, IMHO, there are tons of boring draws in this game. Even aside from the 10-move non-games, who really wants to see a QGA where all the pieces come off in the first 20 moves? They should have a name for this GM-draw in disguise.
slowdive 146 ( +1 | -1 )
chess won't be solved "Eventually, it is conceivable that chess will be solved and then the game will be obsolete" --artifix

Actually, that is not conceivable at all. The number of possible chess games
(while finite) is far more than the number of electrons in the universe.
To "solve" chess would require a computer larger than our solar system computing
for a longer period of time than the number of years since the big bang.

Unless of course by "solve" you didn't mean an airtight mathematical proof, but
allowed human intuition and intelligence (beyond an algorithm)
to be part of the solving algorithm. Even then, my guess is that chess couldn't
be solved in the next million years.

Modern opening theory and grandmaster play gives a false impression of the
possibilities of play (especially when grandmasters repeat the same 22 moves
played in a grandmaster game earlier in the year). There are some opening
moves that are agreed to be bad for small positional reasons (locking your
central pawns on the same color as your remaining bishop for example), and
they probably are bad in the sense that they would lose against perfect play.
But that's certainly not proof, and one cannot discard such a move from
all analysis. Maybe there are some counterintuitive moves that look bad but
are actually part of a perfect game. If you're looking for mathematical proof,
it will never come.
atrifix 187 ( +1 | -1 )
"Actually, that is not conceivable at all."
Chess is finite (zero-sum, perfect information game). Therefore the solution of chess is conceivable, in that I can imagine a world where chess is solved.

"The number of possible chess games
(while finite) is far more than the number of electrons in the universe."

That may be true. I don't have a stellar grasp of physics, but most theories I see argue that the universe is infinite. Within the observable universe, the number of particles is estimated at around 10^120. The number of possible chess games is estimated between 10^100 - 10^150, which may or may not be more than the number of electrons, but it is more than the estimated 10^80 atoms. But the number of possible chess positions (as opposed to games) that can result from the initial position is much smaller, around 10^40 - 10^50. If you are only looking for optimal play, you only need to examine the total chess positions which can result from the intial position.

"To "solve" chess would require a computer larger than our solar system computing
for a longer period of time than the number of years since the big bang. "

Sure, using current technologies. Suppose a PC can calculate around 1 position per microsecond (1 million positions per second). Then 3 million PCs calculating for 1 year could examine 10^20 positions. If Moore's Law continues to hold, then PC power will increase along a 1.5^t curve...and this doesn't even account for technological innovation beyond silicon computers. Go-Moku was recently solved about 5 years ago, although the strategy used to solve Go-Moku cannot be applied to chess. Checkers (which has around 10^18 total positions, 10^31 total games) may be solved within the decade. It seems to me entirely plausible that chess will be solved within the next few centuries. Either way, I think it will be long after my lifetime.
anaxagoras 99 ( +1 | -1 )
Interesting points, slowdive. I agree that chess will not be 'solved' anytime soon, but I would caution against saying we haven't put some pieces of the puzzle together yet.

"Maybe there are some counterintuitive moves that look bad but
are actually part of a perfect game."

Conceivable, yes, but so empirically dubious that insistence on such possibilities should raise suspicion. Humans have engaged in a historical process of increasing knowledge about chess that comes in statements of the form: "don't block your bishop's diagonal," "rooks should be placed behind passed pawns," and "control the four center squares." When these guidelines are contradicted by a chess position, we should not throw our hands in the air, but look for the chess principle behind it that demanded the former guideline be over-ruled.

This is all to say that necessarily there is no good chess move that cannot be accounted for by the positional ideas of chess.
atrifix 2 ( +1 | -1 )
Sorry Moore's Law predicts 2^t, not 1.5^t.
peppe_l 274 ( +1 | -1 )
Solving chess Is pretty much irrelevant. Why? Well, even if supercomputer manages to calculate with best play White wins in 157 moves, no one can memorize it all :-) It will only mean human vs computer matches will become more or less pointless.

"I don't think Fischer is reducible to trying to outplay his opponent in equal endings, either. If he was he would have drawn a lot more games than he actually did. Fischer tried to master all phases of the game, opening, middle, and ending, and to strive for positions where he would achieve a slight advantage and then increase that advantage as the game went on."

Like all chess players :-) My point was Fischer DID score lots of wins from equal endings, just like Karpov after him. When "next generation" stepped in during 80s, more and more equal endings were actually drawn :-) Obviously Fischer strived for advantage in all phases of the game - like all GMs - but in times when he failed to gain an advantage, he was better at maximizing his winning chances in equal positions than most players. And of course, he was ultra-competitive, often playing on in positions where most players simply shook hands. I realize such approach is less effective nowadays (I am referring to improved defensive technique), but it is certainly nice to see top players using this approach rather than "save energy and agree for a draw"...

Of course, the fact remains - main reason for growing percentage of draws is top players become stronger and stronger. There is no way to turn the wheel of time back.

"Petrosian and Spassky respected each other across the board, and they allowed themselves to take it easy during a game or a tournament. Then Fischer appeared. He forced them to play as when Botvinnik was in his heyday; he gave no quarter, and his games went on full five hours, five hours of tense struggle. Fischer did not wait for things to happen, and possibly it is this very trait that distinguishes him from the other great players. Fischer returned sharp play to chess, and he carried the competitive aspect to its limit: a fight to the death. He enchanced the meaning of universalism by demonstrating fine technique in the realization of an advantage, excellent combinational and positional play, a feeling for the initiative, and an ability to attack. But his best competitive trait, which he brought to perfection, was the ability to take advantage of every opportunity during the struggle" - Anatoly Karpov, in his book "My Best Games" 1978

BTW, speaking of Karpov, people who get bored watching Linares 2004 might like to play trough his games from Linares 1994, exactly ten years ago...




buddy2 16 ( +1 | -1 )
round 6 Shirov played a gutsy exchange sac and beat up on the youngster Radjabov. Hopefully, the drawmasters like Kramnik will now realize they have to win a few to get anywhere.