Welcome to Computer Chess Online
I really love the game of chess. It is simple to understand, yet amazingly complicated in practice. This love of chess is what lead me to create computer chess online.
There are very few similar games that demand such deep thought, strategic thinking, tactical brilliance and perfect concentration in order to win. Chess offers all this and more, but without the element of luck. The pieces only move to where you place them on the chessboard.
Unfortunately, unless you live in a locality with a large chess playing community it can be hard to find a human opponent. There are of course websites and services that offer opportunities to play chess online. The problem with these sites, at least in my opinion, is that most players want to play blitz chess and I personally enjoy classical time controls and longer games. Finding a player of similar strength who wishes to play a longer game can at times be challenging.
Advantages of Computer Chess Software
As computer software has come on so much over recent years it is easy to get a computer opponent to play against that will challenge and indeed most likely beat, any player up to and including the World Champion GrandMaster. Not only is computer chess software powerful in Elo terms, it is also available to play 24 hours a day, will not complain about the selected time controls etc. I still enjoy playing against human players, but as my time to play is limited, a computer opponent is often a preferred choice.
Computer chess engines do not just make great opponents. Due to the extreme playing strength of even the freeware chess programs the game analysis these engines provide can be invaluable. It is a modern irony that the chess world looks down on computer chess as a poor relation to “the real game” when in actuality the games produced by computers are often tactically stronger. Even further down the line are the games between so-called “Centaurs”. Centaurs or Centaur Chess are terms used to refer to a computer and human playing in tandem. Centaur games are often of very high quality.
The reason I say that “real chess” looking down on computer chess is ironic is that the top human players will often use a battery of highly specialised multi-core computers to analyse a position or chess opening in order to find a new novelty or a refutation. How ridiculous it is then to hear people speak in negative terms about computer chess.
The Future of Computer Chess
Ever since Gary Kasparov was beaten by a chess computer people have been claiming that chess will be “solved”. By this statement they mean that there will be a method of playing in which the outcome of the game can be forced from the opening move, giving victory to white (who moves first) every time. While this happened for tic-tac-toe, chess is a very different game.
At the time I write this post, a “solution” for chess seems totally absurd. The combinations of moves even 10 or 20 ply into a game of chess are immense and although chess computers are increasing in power almost daily a “solution” seems unlikely. Maybe I will be proven wrong on this point, especially if we see artificial intelligence or quantum computing become a reality, but for now, these ideas are science fiction and belong on my other blog!
To be honest, I would like to be proven wrong on this point as it would mean that humanity has taken a large step forward problem-solvinging with the aid of computers.
Whatever the future brings, I intend to be talking about it here at Computer Chess Online.
Gary Danelishen says
I agree that computer chess engines are great substitutes for actual human opponents. I often have a difficult time finding a fellow chess player to play against. What I enjoy most about computers is the high-quality analysis that they can provide. That is why, for the past 7 years, I have spent most of my free time being an amateur chess openings theorist with the help of Fritz and Rybka.
I have put together what I believe is the next step beyond simple Centaur Chess – a computer chess analysis wiki. Just like Wikipedia, users can create their own ‘article’ for a given chess position and post computer analysis of this position. For example, one page may be “1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4” with computer analysis posted for this position in the King’s Gambit. Another user can create another page, 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 d6”, post analysis of the Fischer’s defense to the King’s gambit, and hyperlink it to the “1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4” article.
In this way a number of users can elaborate opening theory by building upon others’ earlier analysis. In fact, a giant web of interconnected articles (approximately 1,850 articles as of 16 April 2010) has already been put together. A person can click from 1.e4 all the way through to move 25 or more of the Ruy Lopez – Marshall Gambit, for example.
Whereas Centaur Chess generally combines the creative spark of only on human and one software/hardware configuration, this wiki allows for an unlimited number of humans and hardware/software configurations to exhaustively analyze any given position. Over time this dialectic process promises to produce the highest quality analysis.
As you said above, the grandmasters are already privately engaged in the use of computer analysis to build their own repertoire. Opening theory, therefore, has already been impacted by computers because of it. Now, however, we have reached a point in history where the average chess enthusiast can contribute to opening theory. All he/she needs is a working knowledge of chess theory, the human spark of creativity, and a hardware/software combination at his/her disposal.