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.