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  1. Standard member bill718
    Enigma
    18 Jun '16 15:23 / 1 edit
    Chess players are frequently very concerned with their playing strength. To this end, let us consider 2 situations: 50 OTB games against human opponents under tournament conditions vs 50 OTB games against 4-5 different computer opponents set at level about the same as has the human playing against it under the same conditions. Human beings frequently have more imagination, and even flashes of brilliance in chess tournaments than computers, but are affected by heat, light, noise, and other distractions. Computers on the other hand are unaffected by outside distractions, and are normally tactically superior than humans, however sometimes display weaknesses when faced with closed positions, and once a weakness is found, a computer will tend to repeat the weakness, rather than correct it.

    So...what would be a more accurate gage of one's playing strength. 50 games against consistent, tactically superior, but positionally flawed computers, or 50 games against inconsistent but imaginative and fast learning humans?
  2. Standard member byedidia
    Mister Why
    19 Jun '16 23:35
    Playing strength against humans is all that matters.
  3. Subscriber moonbus
    Uber-Nerd
    21 Jun '16 05:10
    Playing against a computer is effectively you playing alone against a team of consultants who communicate their moves by proxy: the computer is a proxy which flawlessly executes the instructions the programmers wrote. They had all the time in the world to program thousands of openings and endgames into a data base, and the theoretical knowledge of the last 10 World's Champions. Imagine you with 90 minutes on the clock, and on the other side of the board is a consortium of Carlson, Annand, Kramnick, Kasparov, Karpov, Fischer, Spasski, Tal, Petrosian, Botvinnik, Nimzovich, Reti, Tarrasch, and three university IT departments, with a budget NASA would envy, consulting with no time limit. It's not a fair fight. It isn't even an interesting fight; the only thing one learns playing against computers is to play extremely cautiously.
  4. Subscriber BigDoggProblem
    The Advanced Mind
    21 Jun '16 07:41
    Originally posted by moonbus
    Playing against a computer is effectively you playing alone against a team of consultants who communicate their moves by proxy: the computer is a proxy which flawlessly executes the instructions the programmers wrote. They had all the time in the world to program thousands of openings and endgames into a data base, and the theoretical knowledge of the last 1 ...[text shortened]... ting fight; the only thing one learns playing against computers is to play extremely cautiously.
    It is playing against a tool designed to do a single thing exceptionally quickly and astonishingly accurately: perform calculations. And that ability is the single most important one in a game of chess.
  5. Subscriber moonbus
    Uber-Nerd
    21 Jun '16 11:17
    Originally posted by BigDoggProblem
    It is playing against a tool designed to do a single thing exceptionally quickly and astonishingly accurately: perform calculations. And that ability is the single most important one in a game of chess.
    Someone once asked Reti how many moves ahead he routinely calculated and he answered, "none". That was hyperbole, of course, but it makes the point that positional judgment is more important than calculating ability.

    Knowing when to calculate matters and that is not a matter of calculation.
  6. Subscriber BigDoggProblem
    The Advanced Mind
    21 Jun '16 13:25
    Originally posted by moonbus
    Someone once asked Reti how many moves ahead he routinely calculated and he answered, "none". That was hyperbole, of course, but it makes the point that positional judgment is more important than calculating ability.

    Knowing when to calculate matters and that is not a matter of calculation.
    I think he actually answered "one move", and I'm not so sure it makes the point you think it does. I take it as more of a style choice.
  7. Subscriber moonbus
    Uber-Nerd
    21 Jun '16 15:43
    Originally posted by BigDoggProblem
    I think he actually answered "one move", and I'm not so sure it makes the point you think it does. I take it as more of a style choice.
    http://exeterchessclub.org.uk/content/chess-quotes
  8. Subscriber Ragwort
    Ex Duris Gloria
    22 Jun '16 05:33
    Top engine assisted players on ICCF for example are now saying they do not send moves without analysing to a depth of at least 40 ply - which requires more than a laptop by the way. Many say they no longer use human OTB databases on the grounds that the moves already represent the best engine assisted analysis or are simply weaker and thus too risky. Quite frankly I think most of the narrative in the opening post is simply out of date.

    There are some interesting possibly philosophical questions arising however. Is there a "sole correct move" as Tarrasch thought for example, and is there even such a thing a positional chess in reality? Is imagination simply a term for a low rated move at 20 ply becoming the top rated move at 40 ply? To what extent is a rule of thumb a reliable ball of string to take into the labyrinth?
  9. Standard member DeepThought
    Losing the Thread
    23 Jun '16 00:28
    Originally posted by Ragwort
    Top engine assisted players on ICCF for example are now saying they do not send moves without analysing to a depth of at least 40 ply - which requires more than a laptop by the way. Many say they no longer use human OTB databases on the grounds that the moves already represent the best engine assisted analysis or are simply weaker and thus too risky. Quite f ...[text shortened]... 40 ply? To what extent is a rule of thumb a reliable ball of string to take into the labyrinth?
    So chess becomes a game of analysing an opponent's past games to work out which engine they are using and looking for potential weaknesses in the algorithm...

    From the point of view of which move is best it does depend on one's opponent. Consider a chess oracle - 32 piece tablebases. From any given position it tells you which moves win, which draw and which lose. In any given position one can only make one's position worse in that if the position is drawn then no winning moves are available, but, in general losing moves will be. So, in a sense, any move which does not change the result is as good as any other, and all moves that change the result are bad, how bad they are depends on whether they blow a won position into a draw or a defeat or allow a drawn position to drift into a losing one.

    The problem is that against human opposition some moves are more difficult to maintain the result against. This is extremely hard to quantify. Counting lines of play leading to wins, draws and losses won't really help as just because along a sequence of ten moves only one of the available moves each turn is correct (i.e. maintains the result) doesn't mean that finding that one move in twelve or so is particularly difficult (sometimes "only moves" are easy to find). Humans find defending difficult, they tend to miss entire lines of play, but machine calculation is more or less comprehensive so they tend to defend very accurately without becoming flustered. This means against a machine what is more likely to work is a positional approach preferably involving a gambit for some long term benefit the positional evaluation algorithm hopefully underestimates. Whereas against a human a gambit for a quick direct attack on the king is more likely to be effective.
  10. Subscriber moonbus
    Uber-Nerd
    23 Jun '16 05:10
    The match I would like to see is this: Deep Blue vs. a team of 4 or 5 GMs, with access to a chess library, played at correspondence time limits. That would be a fair fight. It would compensate for the human weakness that humans cannot search millions of database entries in milliseconds, and it would compensate the computer 'horizon' problem.

    My money would be on the humans.
  11. 23 Jun '16 13:50
    Originally posted by moonbus
    The match I would like to see is this: Deep Blue vs. a team of 4 or 5 GMs, with access to a chess library, played at correspondence time limits. That would be a fair fight. It would compensate for the human weakness that humans cannot search millions of database entries in milliseconds, and it would compensate the computer 'horizon' problem.

    My money would be on the humans.
    They will fight against each other and the game will be abandoned due casualties at GMs' side.
  12. Subscriber Paul Leggett
    Chess Librarian
    23 Jun '16 14:28
    Originally posted by vandervelde
    They will fight against each other and the game will be abandoned due casualties at GMs' side.
    I was thinking the same thing. It would have to be a world-champ-type player with a bunch of high-quality seconds, so the pecking order is preset.
  13. Subscriber moonbus
    Uber-Nerd
    24 Jun '16 05:34 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Paul Leggett
    I was thinking the same thing. It would have to be a world-champ-type player with a bunch of high-quality seconds, so the pecking order is preset.
    Why not some country's chess olympic team? The Russians and the Americans could field pretty tough crews.