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  1. Standard member vivify
    rain
    02 Nov '12 03:51
    Something I've been thinking about more and more as I play, is that chess is all just mathematics. There exists a mathematically perfect counter to every move; it's just a matter of time before a computer figures it all out. kinda makes it a little disapointing to me.

    Chess has the illustion that it takes brilliance and strategy to win at; but in reality, it's all just math, and that's why many great chess players are easily dominated by chess engines that you can download to your phone.

    Is there a human alive that can beat Fritz? What about the latest Deep Blue program that beat Garry many years back? Could Carlsen stand a chance against the latest version?

    Now, I realize, that because humans are limited, that it does indeed take strategy, cunning, etc., to beat other humans. We have to get creative, since our brains aren't calculators. But even this fact is somewhat underscored by the fact that GMs memorize countless opening lines. 1d4? Counter with such-and-such. French Defense? Counter with this. All just basic science.

    This is something Fischer had a problem with, and said in an interview that it took the fun out of chess..."All this memorization, memorization". This is what lead him to create Chess 960, which (as I understand it) enables 960 different starting positions. This makes memorizing openings a futile effort, and seems more to the essense of why we play chess; to see what brilliant strategies we can come up with, rather than playing robotically.

    I guess I should just play Chess 960 (anyone here played it?) and quit whining. But I'm sure even this, is something that no human can beat a computer at.
  2. Standard member ChessPraxis
    Cowboy From Hell
    02 Nov '12 04:02
    Originally posted by vivify
    Something I've been thinking about more and more as I play, is that chess is all just mathematics. There exists a mathematically perfect counter to every move; it's just a matter of time before a computer figures it all out. kinda makes it a little disapointing to me.

    Chess has the illustion that it takes brilliance and strategy to win at; but in realit ...[text shortened]... uit whining. But I'm sure even this, is something that no human can beat a computer at.
    It's not math, it's psychology.
  3. 02 Nov '12 04:04
    From here on out it may just become, "Hey, did you hear that Polykarp Cherovkowski lasted 42 moves against Cerulean Blue before being checkmated?"

    That might become the ultimate compliment for a human player.

    In 2001: A Space Odyssey (novel or film, I don't remember which) the HAL 9000 computer let astronaut Dave Bowman win a certain fraction of their games, for morale purposes.
  4. 02 Nov '12 04:04 / 2 edits
    Double post. Oops.
  5. 02 Nov '12 04:38
    Hi vivify

    Thanks again for the game. There is nice wrap in there somewhere
    but I went brutal to close it . I tossed a Rook rushing to get round to your game again. That one is mess we both look lost.

    My view with computers is big deal. Who really cares.
    Just because these things have got so good chess it does not make
    all human chess players good. Humans are still the same. Chess won't die.

    We can still play and have fun.

    Big deal Deep Blue neat Kasparov. It now sells airplane tickets.

    Forget them. They are now so strong they are beyond any practical use.
    God alone knows what positions these things give a +1 to in 20 moves time.

    And cheer up.
  6. Standard member wolfgang59
    Infidel
    02 Nov '12 09:09
    Originally posted by vivify
    Something I've been thinking about more and more as I play, is that chess is all just mathematics. There exists a mathematically perfect counter to every move; it's just a matter of time before a computer figures it all out. kinda makes it a little disapointing to me.

    Chess has the illustion that it takes brilliance and strategy to win at; but in realit ...[text shortened]... uit whining. But I'm sure even this, is something that no human can beat a computer at.
    It would be interesting to discover whether the perfect game is a win or a draw. (Maybe even a forced win for black!!!) but that would not reduce my enjoyment of the game.

    We all enjoy kicking a ball about but we dont intend playing in the World Cup!
  7. Standard member vivify
    rain
    02 Nov '12 13:36
    Originally posted by wolfgang59


    We all enjoy kicking a ball about but we dont intend playing in the World Cup!
    Good point. Well said.
  8. Subscriber Marinkatomb
    wotagr8game
    02 Nov '12 16:00 / 2 edits
    Originally posted by vivify
    Something I've been thinking about more and more as I play, is ,that chess is all just mathematics. There exists a mathematically perfect counter to every move; it's just a matter of time before a computer figures it all out. kinda makes it a little disapointing to me.

    Chess has the illustion that it takes brilliance and strategy to win at; but in reali uit whining. But I'm sure even this, is something that no human can beat a computer at.
    I feel there is some truth in what you are saying, but there's more to it than just calculation (i go here, he goes there, etc...)

    Computers themselves are starting to play differently. Take this game i posted the other day...

    (straight cut and paste)



    Black (Houdini chess engine) Is evaluating the activity of the pieces. It calculates that it can get away with sacrificing all this material, because the activity of it's pieces means it can win back the material. But it plays on, down in material, increasing it's activity and hindering the activity of it's opponent (Rybka, 4 times Word champion at the time). Rather than calculating every move available, it selects a few core variations (after a short evaluation of it's options) and puts all it's processing power into evaluating these specific lines to a much higher depth. This allows it to avoid horizon issues that most engines suffer from, because it is calculating lines sometimes up to 40 ply (20 moves per side). What's interesting, is that when a computers horizon is increased like this, the style it plays in is quite different. When Tal made these seemingly illogical sacrifices, he was evaluating piece activity. His games are spectacular because the outcome looks unclear. Houdini is capable of finding such moves, because it can actually calculate the outcome.

    When Kasparov played Deep blue (which there is no current version of btw, it was dismantled straight after the match, to great controversy) he was playing a purely calculating machine. Traditionally chess computers evaluate a position purely in tactical grounds, it seeks only to win material or deliver mate (which is why spotting them on correspondence sites is quite easy, in quiet or purely positional positions engines tend to make strange manoeuvres that are hard to explain without introducing non-chess words like psychology..)

    Now where am i going with all this? Well, the thing is this. When Kasparov played Deep blue (or Adams against Hydra) it spelled the end of humans beating engines. Fare enough. But are computers moving closer to solving the game? I think this game above points towards a resounding no! On the one hand you have an engine (white) which is a brute forces material hungry monster. White losses because it seeks a material advantage.

    Let's just stop here and think about this, because this is quite profound.

    You can develop new engines that play in different styles. Nothing is invincible, unless it has every possible position pre-evaluated to a win before the match. This, to me, is realistically impossible.

    The only way chess will be solved, in my opinion, is when end game table bases work their way right back to the starting position. But when you really think about how much information that represents, the possibility that any human could memorise enough to become unbeatable is just absurd.

    What does this mean for human chess?

    Well, i think Houdini plays quite like Tal/Kasparov in this game. Human players are capable of making these huge leaps of imagination that allow them to sacrifice material like this. They only need to see certain key moves and can develop outrageous plans as a result. That is not mathematics to me. Yes, when they calculate a line to make sure it works, this could be compared to maths. But the reasoning that goes into what they should calculate is much more akin to fuzzy logic. "If my bishop was on f7, i'd be able to do 'x' 'y' 'z', can i get my bishop there? ...calculate... yes."

    Computers need to use a similar approach. Houdini gets it's strength because of it's initial evaluation. It has to choose which lines look promising, then it calculates. What is a promising line? How many promising lines does it miss as a result of an earlier shallow evaluation? There is so much room for improvement, perhaps in time computers will discover a completely different style of play altogether?? What about Petrosians style, do we have an engine that plays like him? If someone developed such an engine (which put removing risk from a position as its first priority, for example) would that counter the houdini style? The same arms race that takes place between humans will inevitably take place between engines. This is really just the beginning, i'm not sure there will be an end..
  9. 02 Nov '12 16:50
    Originally posted by vivify
    it's just a matter of time before a computer figures it all out
    Doubtful. It is way beyond the capabilities of the computers we can conceive of now.
  10. Standard member vivify
    rain
    02 Nov '12 17:07
    Originally posted by WanderingKing
    Doubtful. It is way beyond the capabilities of the computers we can conceive of now.
    "Now" is the key word. Fifteen years ago, Skype would've seemed like something straight out of the Jetsons.
  11. 02 Nov '12 21:19
    Originally posted by vivify
    "Now" is the key word. Fifteen years ago, Skype would've seemed like something straight out of the Jetsons.
    No, "now" is not the key word here. This is mathematics and physics, not technology. Or rather, it's about the limits mathematics and physics impose on technology. I can say with absolute certainty that chess will not be solved in the next fifteen years. But this is a very week statement. I can as easily say I'm sure it's not going to be done in the next fifty years. It's not that we don't have the technology. It's that we (and I don't mean you and we here but the humankind) can't imagine such technology, and aren't sure whether physics allows for it or not.
  12. 03 Nov '12 01:55
    Hi Marinkatomb

    "Well, i think Houdini plays quite like Tal/Kasparov in this game."

    I'm not sure of that.

    The box would have chosen the move it thought was best.
    The sacs look risky to us , they are not, they are 100% sound.

    Kasparov and especially Tal (and Lasker) like to give their opponents
    difficult problems to solve. They gambled on the player not being able to solve
    in the time available the problem set before them.

    A computer does not know what a difficult position is to a human.
    A computer will never ever spec sac for the sake of complications

    It may appear like a wild sac game but everything would have been
    calculated down to the smallest detail.

    A box sacs a bit against you it for two reasons.
    A) It thinks it is 100% sound.
    B) It is prolonging the inevitable mate for as long as it can.
    Computers do not gamble.

    They cannot play differently, they are machines, you cannot program
    a machine to play like and think like a human.
  13. Subscriber Marinkatomb
    wotagr8game
    03 Nov '12 02:26 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by greenpawn34
    Hi Marinkatomb

    "Well, i think Houdini plays quite like Tal/Kasparov in this game."

    I'm not sure of that.

    The box would have chosen the move it thought was best.
    The sacs look risky to us , they are not, they are 100% sound.

    Kasparov and especially Tal (and Lasker) like to give their opponents
    difficult problems to solve. They gambled on the ...[text shortened]... rently, they are machines, you cannot program
    a machine to play like and think like a human.
    Hi GP. I never said the computer is playing anything it 'feels' is unsound, it is absolutely playing to a very definite calculation, that is all it's capable of. What i was alluding to was the way it decides what to calculate in the first place.

    Fritz crunches all the available moves to 10 ply, no exceptions. It assigns values to each evaluation and plays the move which gives the best number. Once it plays it's move, it starts crunching again, the 10 ply line it used to decide on it's previous move is redundant, it works it out again, going two ply deeper this time. This, when you are talking about computers, is inefficient. Houdini doesn't do this. It disregards most of it's potential moves and focuses on 3-5 core first moves (maybe more, maybe less, but it's a finite number), but it analyses much much deeper. This s still all calculation, but it is discriminatory, and thus is comparable to the way humans play chess. When Houdini starts looking at a line that sacrifices a pawn, then another, then a knight, it doesn't know it is going to work until it reaches it's horizon (possibly the conclusion is still out of view, in this case the engine won't play it).

    Basically what i'm saying is that it has been programmed by a chess player (rather than a pure programmer). The author understands chess and is somewhere around 2100 otb. Realising the short comings of traditional engines he's created one that tries to discriminate early between promising lines and rubbish lines (which introduces the potential for weakness as well as strength). In doing this, he has created an engine that can calculate these long term sacrifices. Rybka completely failed to see what the threats were until it was way too late in this game.

    Now, suppose you created an engine which used all of its processing looking for good moves for it's opponent first (just as an example). As with Houdini, the outcome could be quite unexpected. By playing around with the priorities you program into an engine, and given the absolute ability of the engine to follow these instructions to the letter, we can truly start exploring what is the ultimate correct style is to play chess, something that has puzzled humans since the creation of the game. The game above demonstrates that piece activity can be considered more important than the immediate material distribution, something that Tal and Kasparov proved over and over during their playing days. That is why i brought them up, i wasn't stating the computer used 'instinct', but if i showed you this game and said Kasparov played it against an engine would you find it hard to believe? I don't think i would..

    EDIT: Or indeed, it may become apparent that for every 'style' there is a counter style that competes, much like we've seen in many matches for the Human World championship over the years, where seemingly invincible players come up against players who have analysed their playing style and adapted accordingly. At least with computers results can't be put down to outside influences like a bad nights sleep or peculiar psychological tactics..
  14. Standard member mikelom
    Ajarn
    03 Nov '12 03:54
    Computers don't see in 3-D in the same perspective as a human.

    They work with a binary system only.

    The human brain works and sees in 3-D so it is , therefore, superior to any computer, in general, as a means of enjoyment and challenge.

    The computer does not hold love for the game, as a human does.

    Computers suck in the world of emotions, and always will!

    It's our game, not a computer's game, and long may it continue to be!

    -m.
  15. Subscriber Marinkatomb
    wotagr8game
    03 Nov '12 04:06
    Originally posted by mikelom
    Computers don't see in 3-D in the same perspective as a human.

    They work with a binary system only.

    The human brain works and sees in 3-D so it is , therefore, superior to any computer, in general, as a means of enjoyment and challenge.

    The computer does not hold love for the game, as a human does.

    Computers suck in the world of emotions, and always will!

    It's our game, not a computer's game, and long may it continue to be!

    -m.
    I think humans have greater potential than computers do (as computers stand today that is) but we're so susceptible to self delusion. Computers have an advantage in chess as they play consistently at the same strength. Humans are capable of getting carried away and forgetting defence, King safety, over looking a simple refutation because their build up play so far has been so successful. Keeping up a consistent flow of concentration while at the same time going off on flights of imaginative fancy, all while keeping to a strict time control is (as we all know) VERY difficult indeed. All the same, a human can still spot when i computer is going wrong..