There is nothing like dice in Chess. There is nothing like randomly distributed cards neither. Except when deciding who is White and who is black, there is apparently no chance is chess. Chess – and this is often honoured - is one of these games that apparently do not imply any kind of chance.
Apparently, yes! Because on contrary to what most people think, there is still a lot of chance, implied in any of our chess games. And even the greatest players do have chance. Let me explain.
1. we may conceive chess as an equation with a finite number of solutions. In this model, there is nothing like chance: it’s all logic and mathematics. Maybe, one day, powerful computers will give us the final solutions of chess. But, we all also agree that when we play chess, we never think like in mathematics and logic: though chess has a finite number of solutions, it is a very large number of solutions, and it is impossible, in a concrete chess game, to fully consider them all. We rather use limited patterns to select information and decide what way seems the best.
2. Patterns – and I insist, this is the practical perspective everyone adopts, when playing chess – are limited. This means that there is a difference between our patterns, and the hypothetical (though logically certain) perfect solution. There is something completely beyond our practical logics or rationality; something that is part of the game, but that we do not integrate in our previsions. This implies the possibility of discoveries.
3. These discoveries cannot be made thanks to our patterns, or strategical, positional thoughts: and this is absolutely true; it is true by definition;.: since discoveries precisely apply beyond our given patterns.
4.So discoveries are due to nothing. Another name for this is chance: the fact that there is not only pattern, but also unexpected “beyond-the-pattern”, every time you play.
5. Lets give some example. In some situation, you play following some strategical ideas... and to one point, you also discover that “by chance!” there is also something more than your strategy and tactics: there is some piece, some pawn here or there; something that was there without intention, or without the intention of doing the thing you just saw. Something that you did not plan, something unexpected; that may help or annoy you. We may call it “luck” if it helps; “bad luck” if it does not. I think this is an essential part of chess, underestimated. This is why there are events in chess, stories, happenings!
6. But how could there be luck, if on the other hand, better players still usually win? By definition, if this is luck, there is no better player, there is only luck... and better players are not better because they have more luck, they are better because they know more about chess. Well, this is because luck here, relates to something different from dice and cards luck.
Here luck applies not on what is given, distributed to you objectively (a six with a dice, a King with cards). This would the case in Fischer random chess (where pieces are randomly distributed on the board), but it is not in classical chess. Here, luck has a different object: it applies to the intentions or patterns you have in mind. (Damn! This queen could also help doing this! “I” (my mind, my patterns) did not plan this! I am pretty lucky!) . And as everyone knows, it is not your state of mind who defines whether you win or not, but the objective situation. So there is luck, but it does not define the objective success or failure of your games. It only explains that your game may go better or worse that you have effectively planned.
7. Some people may say: He did not see this because he was tired, not concentrated: this is why there are things that you do not see, not because of chance. But this is not the real question. The real point is that, whether or not you see that pawn, or tactical combination, you had not planned it; it was there only by chance.
8. Finally, afterwards, you could also say: yes this was logical, necessary. But this is only afterwards... Afterwards, what was chance usually become part of your pattern. For your next games for instance, you will think about it. But then, you just change your mind. So it was luck with your previous mind, but with your new mind, it is not anymore. So there is still luck, for a given state of mind.
So please! Be kind when you win: recognize that you definitely had chance!