Originally posted by exigentsky
Chess engines today are as strong and probably stronger overall than the best humans. It's true that there are still many positions where engines are nowhere near as good as a GM, but it's inevitable that within the next few decades, they will dominate every aspect of the game. Rybka has already reached the 3200 ELO level today (and it is probably accurat ...[text shortened]... y fears are?
Thanks for bearing with me and sorry for being so wordy!
Excellent post! Engines have definitely had an enormous impact on chess and their influence can only grow as they get stronger. I think for most players, the benefits of engines outweigh their disadvantages. They are incredibly useful for analysing finished games, spotting tactical chances far faster (and more accurately) than any human could. I'm not totally convinced about their usefulness as a tool in developing opening theory. For instance engines struggle to grasp the strategic ideas behind complex openings such as the Sicilian Najdorf. Although there are exceptions such as some of the crazier lines in the Poisoned Pawn!
It's true that the excessive amount of opening theory is causing problems at the top levels. But this is a trend that has been going on for many decades, long before computers were invented. Capablanca, almost 100 years ago claimed that the openings were played out and predicted the death of chess within a few years. His "solution" was to argue for a change in the rules of chess and play it on a bigger board.
I don't think that we've reached the point yet that a change in the rules is needed. In recent years Fischer Random Chess (or Chess 960) has been suggested as a good way to avoid opening theory. But it seems a bit boring to me. From what I've read about the game, the players usually spend the first 10 moves shuffling their pieces, trying to rearrange them so that the position resembles normal chess! And this is supposed to be progress?
I also believe that the level of cheating in OTB chess tournaments has been greatly exaggerated. Of course it does exist, and is a potential problem for big prize events. However it's nothing like drugs in sport. On the other hand almost nothing is done to prevent it. I've played in a few international tournaments, and know other people who have played in far more than me, and the level of security is typically non-existent. Players are allowed to wander all over the place, leaving the venue if they wish, chat to spectators and other players, or even visit the bookstall whilst their game is in progress. Nobody is ever accompanied to the toilet. Maybe things are different at the Super GM tournament level?
So the vast majority of OTB tournament organisers don't seem to think that cheating is an issue. However correspondence chess is a different story. Regardless of whether engines are allowed, tolerated or forbidden, there will always be a proportion of players that use them. Exigentsky referred to "chess's image and prestige"
. Well, correspondence chess has a terrible image amongst many ordinary OTB players who won't touch it with a barge pole, assuming everyone is using an engine.
Overall though, I think engines are a good thing. Which is just as well, as they are going to be with us for a long time, whether we like it or not!