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  1. 27 Jul '16 19:01
    Chess players today have access to a massive amount of chess information. Millions of games and many hours of chess instruction is just a few mouse clicks away on our computers. Are we stronger than players of the past as a result? Frankly, I don't know. Any thoughts?
  2. Subscriber moonbus
    Uber-Nerd
    27 Jul '16 20:55
    We stand on the shoulders of giants. We have their games to learn from, but not v.v.
  3. Subscriber Paul Leggett
    Chess Librarian
    27 Jul '16 23:58
    Originally posted by mchill
    Chess players today have access to a massive amount of chess information. Millions of games and many hours of chess instruction is just a few mouse clicks away on our computers. Are we stronger than players of the past as a result? Frankly, I don't know. Any thoughts?
    I think it is safe to say that we know more, but more knowledgeable does not equal better. That said, the question is "are we stronger", and I guess the real question is what is meant by "stronger".

    The advancement of knowledge and theory naturally favors the person who comes later, but the earlier players would learn quickly, in much the same way Kasparov learned from Karpov in the first match. Talent is a rapid equalizer when exposed to a fertile environment.

    A part of me thinks the players of the past might have an edge because they are more proficient at playing without the safety net of theory or engines.

    Like a great chef, they cook without recipes, and craft games "by hand". The absence of a calculator tends to make one a better natural mathematician when it comes to mental calculations. For instance, I would put the Rubinstein of 1912-1925 against any player from any era. WW I and the war's financial aftermath ruined his opportunities and cheated the rest of us.
  4. Subscriber moonbus
    Uber-Nerd
    28 Jul '16 11:05
    Some players remain strong even in old age. Lasker was still a force to reckon with in his 60s and had a solid record against several champions who succeeded him (incl. Alekhine, Euwe, and Botvinnik). That suggests that at least some native talents would fare well in any era.
  5. Standard member vivify
    rain
    28 Jul '16 16:32 / 2 edits
    We are definitely stronger than past players, no question. I am just an average player at best; yet, when I play others who are avid chess fans (but don't bother to play on the internet), some of my moves appear to be sheer genius, when they're simply tactics anyone who goes to chess sites regularly have seen multiple times.

    It's the same with any sport, really. When you compare the skill of the kid playing basketball on a play ground to those in the 70's, there's no comparison. The ball handling of any current 14 year old kid is far beyond anyone from that decade, or maybe even the 80's. Professional players today make NBA players from the 80's look like old men at your local YMCA.

    Don't bet me wrong: that doesn't mean that even one percent of today's players could've ever hoped to beat Fischer, Morphy, Capablanca, Alekhine, etc. However, I would wager that the top 20 players of today would win the majority of games against the top twenty players (of similar age) of 20 years ago.
  6. 29 Jul '16 00:04
    The players of later generations will always be better than
    those that came before else chess would be going backwards.

    But we must never forget the old masters or indeed the great games they played.
    Their games, writing and personalities kept the game alive. Without them chess may
    have slipped into obscurity. As it is soon there will be a Chess Olympiad with the number
    of countries entered 2nd only to the World Cup. In this respect it's better than the
    World Cup because every country entered will be at the finals.
  7. Subscriber BigDoggProblem
    The Advanced Mind
    29 Jul '16 08:05
    Originally posted by mchill
    Chess players today have access to a massive amount of chess information. Millions of games and many hours of chess instruction is just a few mouse clicks away on our computers. Are we stronger than players of the past as a result? Frankly, I don't know. Any thoughts?
    We are not. They would simply play the lines that are "bad" now, and we would forget why they are considered bad, and how to refute them, because our opponents stopped playing those years ago.