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|Jul-30-09|| ||visayanbraindoctor: <whatthefat: What I don't agree with is the idea that at some point players 'max out', and at that point there is essentially nothing to separate one super GM from another. I don't think that it is just the number of top tier players that has increased, but also the upper bound of playing strength. In other words, I think Karpov and Kasparov were intrinsically stronger players than any who came before.>|
Actually you could be correct. My hypothesis is just that, a hypothesis. But for the reasons I gave, I believe that there is indeed a limit to human chess-playing ability, well below computer levels or accuracy. My view is that the maximum chess players thus far that humanity has produced are Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine, Fischer, Karpov, and Kasparov.
I am not saying that other active present-day players can not max-out. For instance, if Kramnik re-discovers his motivation, I believe he is as talented (his <hardware> is just as good) as Kasparov, but IMO the motivation isn't there (yet). Some of the youthful prodigies also have the potential to max-out for an extensive period. We shall soon see in the coming years.
|Jul-30-09|| ||Everett: All kudos to the oldies, but modern players are blessed with all their hard work and understanding "up front."|
Perhaps there are no new mating patterns out there, but chess has seen a tremendous exploration of positional ideas. Karpov's games can serve as an encyclopedia, and some of Petrosian's set-ups defy straight-forward understanding.
I would rather not compare the older greats to todays, but the chess players today certainly have more patterns to work with (in all phases) than their predecessors. It is an aspect of progress, but it does not diminish the great chess played by earlier champions.
|Jul-30-09|| ||keypusher: One trivial point, re training: Znovsko-Borovsky said that he played hundreds of Ruy Lopez exchange variation games with Lasker, I don't know where or when. Unlike Botvinnik though, it seems Lasker did not use these games to test innovations or experiment with different styles, but rather to thoroughly familiarize himself with the positions that came up.|
|Jul-30-09|| ||visayanbraindoctor: <keypusher: One trivial point, re training: Znovsko-Borovsky said that he played hundreds of Ruy Lopez exchange variation games with Lasker>|
Wow! Thanks for confirming my suspicion. To me at least, if Lasker was playing training matches with Znovsko-Borovsky, presumably in the 1910s, he probably was secretly doing the same in the 1920s and 1930s. This could account for his incredible strength even in the 1930s, past 60 years old!
I think Lasker was a rather cunning individual. He always seemed to have tried to give the impression that he did not study chess. I think he did that so that his opponents would underestimate him. The fact is that in games were his opponents misplayed the opening, Lasker would blast them off the board.
Lasker's play in the 1930s has always befuddled me. It seems biologically and medically impossible. I would not believe it for an instant if some one were to tell me that some chess player could play Candidate level chess consistently above 60, but Lasker's 1930s games are undeniable facts; so the only obvious thing to do is to create hypotheses trying to explain the facts.
Botvinnik of course took this practice to the extreme in shaping the Soviet Union school of chess.
<Everett> I join you in your <All kudos to the oldies, but modern players are blessed with all their hard work and understanding "up front.">
<the chess players today certainly have more patterns to work with (in all phases) than their predecessors>
I believe it should be qualified. This is mostly true for the opening phase. For the middlegame and the endgame, 99% or all of the patterns we see in 1910 to 1940 games are the same as today's. At least, I cannot distinguish a 1910 to 1940 game from a master game yesterday if I were to eavesdrop in the middlegame; they look exactly the same.
For openings, I can easily distinguish a game if it occurred post WW2 if its opening employs the KID, or some lines of the Sicilian such as the Richter-Rauser or the English attack or the Dragon. For most other present-day openings, the moment they start deviating from theory, in a few more moves the middlegame that they produce is completely indistinguishable (to me) from pre WW2 games. As for endgames.. if one takes endgame positions from random master games here in CG.com without knowing the dates, there is no way of knowing in what era they were played.
For instance, if you take a look at this endgame, and were only given the fact that the two strongest players of the day were playing it, but not the dates and the identities of the players, how would you know what era it was played in? You can't. From all appearances, it could have been played yesterday.
Morphy vs Anderssen, 1858
Now you were allowed to peek at the opening. An Evan's Gambit between two of the world's strongest players? This must be a pre-WW1 era game.
Then you were allowed to peek at the players' identities. Morphy and Anderssen? This must be in 1858.
|Jul-30-09|| ||Augalv: <frogbert>, you are entitled to your opinion, but I really don't see the need to resort to sarcasm and provocation in your comment.|
|Jul-31-09|| ||Everett: <vbd> Well, I'll stick with just Karpov and Petrosian and say that there styles seem, to me, remarkably patient and sanguine, like nothing that was seen before.|
With every new great player, the chess world is enriched by their particular intuition and insight at the board. Look at Kramnik with the Catalan, playing it like he was possessed by the spirits of Karpov and Smyslov on steroids. IMO I don't think he could play it with such mastery without studying the predecessors I've named. Every new chess genius will now have Kramnik's unique insight on a database, and this information would be unavailable to anyone from previous ages.
I guess what I'm trying to say is all the greats had chess wisdom, but the newbies have greater access, greater mass of quality information, and greater tools to assimilate efficiently.
How's this for a thought experiment: a player in the 1910s through some mystical vision sees and understands all the chess games played by the future champ Kasparov. How would this person's chess change after seeing all of the consistently irrational positions, '94 exchange-sac vs Shirov, etc? I think you underestimate the power of each beautiful move, sequence and set-up that has been created by each generation
|Jul-31-09|| ||percyblakeney: I looked at <Bridgeburner>'s interesting analysis of the Lasker-Schlechter games, and I think it would be a good idea to mention somewhere what engine is being used. At one place it says: <The engine I'm using is a middle of the road kind of beast, and is not in the league of some of the silicon giants striding the landscape> but there’s nothing more on the subject.|
Maybe also the good-bad move threshold is a bit high. To play a "perfect" game Lasker and Schlechter must avoid moves that immediately change the evaluation with 0.8 or more. These studies will always have many methodological problems to consider and it would surely be possible to spend years just thinking of what definitions to use without ever being able to come to a convincing decision. To me 0.8+ seems high as the indicator of a non-good move, but everyone will have their own definition on this one, depending on what engine is being used and many other factors.
|Jul-31-09|| ||visayanbraindoctor: <To me 0.8+ seems high as the indicator of a non-good move>|
We have to start somewhere. In any case, 0.8+ would be used for all games and for all subsequent WC matches that would be analyzed, if I understand <Bridgeburner> correctly. There shall be consistency.
I am not a computer buff, but from what I know, the simplest of computers (or even a single Turing machine) would be able to do what faster more powerful computers can do given sufficient time. One week analyzing each game seems quite reasonable to me.
|Jul-31-09|| ||visayanbraindoctor: <Everett: <vbd> Well, I'll stick with just Karpov and Petrosian and say that there styles seem, to me, remarkably patient and sanguine, like nothing that was seen before.>|
Now that you say it, you have a point with these two. Here is what Petrosian said about himself and his chess style:
<I was brought up on the games of Capablanca and Nimzowitsch, and they became part of my chess flesh and blood. - Tigran Petrosian>
Yet almost every one would agree that Petrosian developed a highly unique style. Superficially his games might resemble some of the quiet but powerful positional games of Capablanca and Nimzovich. However, it's not really Capablanca IMO, and not really Nimzovich. He would make subtle prophylactic moves and then... Wham! His opponent discovers he has walked into a lost position.
Here is what Karpov had to say about himself and his style:
<The ideal in chess can only be a collective image, but in my opinion it is Capablanca who most closely approaches this... His book was the first chess book that I studied from cover to cover. Of course, his ideas influenced me. - Anatoly Karpov>
However, Karpov's style seemed to have been in between Capablanca's and Petrosian's.
|Jul-31-09|| ||gars: a) Petrosian was a student of Archil Ebralidze, who used to say: "there are three chess truths: Nimzowitsch, Capablanca and the Caro-Kan Defense";|
b) Spassky on Karpov: "He is an improved Petrosian".
|Jul-31-09|| ||frogbert: <I am not going to discuss with you, as you are using a sarcastic provocative tone in your post;>|
suit yourself, vbd - if you don't understand why capablanca's white openings would've left to dozens and dozens of draws against current day top players, that's your loss anyway.
|Jul-31-09|| ||nimh: When I look at all analyses and opinions on comparison between modern and earlier top chess masters, I can say with confidence that absolutely no master of pre WWII era can play chess at the same level as modern top GMs.|
<We have to start somewhere. In any case, 0.8+ would be used for all games and for all subsequent WC matches that would be analyzed, if I understand <Bridgeburner> correctly. There shall be consistency.>
It isn't about consistency, what percyblackeney hinted at is that a thresholds of 0.8 and 1.4 are clearly a way too large.
If he really wants to cling onto a threshold-based system, instead of average error-based one, I'd suggest implementing four categories of mistakes:
an inaccuracy 0.20 1p;
a mistake 0.40 2p;
a serious mistake 0.80 3p;
a blunder 1.60 4p;
Additionally, it is necessary to consider factors that make accurate play more difficult. This is very important and I think any analysis without taking those factors into account is dangerously close to being rubbish.
|Jul-31-09|| ||visayanbraindoctor: <Everett: How would this person's chess change after seeing all of the consistently irrational positions, '94 exchange-sac vs Shirov, etc?>
Regarding long-range exchange sacs, you gave this as an example: Kasparov vs Shirov, 1994|
After 17. Rxb7 Nxb7, we have the following position:
click for larger view
What is White's compensation? In a Pelikan set-up, White has a Tarrasch Knight in a hole of opposite color as the Black Bishop. No one would take anything away from the excellence of this game.
Question is, were top pre-WW2 masters playing such exchange sacs regularly? Yes! Even pre-WW1 masters knew all about the exchange sacrifice. In fact, Janowski was rather notorious for his exchange sacs. Even at the slightest opportunity, he did the exchange sac thingy. See
Game Collection: David Janowsky's exchange sacrifices (Congrats for <Karpova> for the collection.)
Just take a look at this game:
Dide vs Janowski, 1901
14. c3 Rxb6 15. Nxb6 Qxb6 16. cxd4
click for larger view
This is a Pelikan type set up like in the Kasparov vs Shirov (1994) game above; but this time it is ironically Black that does the exchange sac thing, and also straight out of the opening. The compensation is two powerful Bishops in an open position.
Did Janowski also do the exchange sac in order to obtain Tarrasch Knights? Yes!
Janowski vs Kupchik, 1913
click for larger view
Here, Janowski pushes 22. e4, inviting Kupchik, one of the strongest players in the USA and who also was of GM caliber, to plant a Knight on e3 with 22...f4 23. Qf2 Ne3. The willy Janowski did it on purpose, for then he does the exchange sac straightaway. 24. Rxe3 fxe3 25. Qxe3 Nc8
click for larger view
Now his Knights located on the dark squares are virtually immune to his opponent's light-square Bishop.
Not content with that, he creates another hole on f6 which his Knight soon occupies by 26. Ng4 Rg6 27. e5 Rg7 28. Bc4 Bf7 29. Nf6
click for larger view
These are not one-game flukes. Janowski did the exchange sacrifice against World Champions and Almost World Champions from Steinitz to Alekine:
Steinitz vs Janowski, 1898
Lasker vs Janowski, 1909
Pillsbury vs Janowski, 1904
Capablanca vs Janowski, 1913
Capablanca vs Janowski, 1916
Janowski vs Alekhine, 1914
He beat Steinitz, Lasker, Pillsbury, and Alekhine in the above games.
I would like to point this out in justice to the often underrated Janowski. Just because Lasker massacred him in two matches does not mean he was a patzer. There is no doubt that the games above could only have been played by a GM caliber player.
It seems to me that if it middlegames that we are talking above, there is nothing new under the sun. Although chess fans hail Kasparov's long-range strategical exchange sacrifice all the time as imaginative and novel, we can obviously see from the above games that Janowski even in the pre-WW1 era was employing it to devastating effect.
|Jul-31-09|| ||frogbert: <I believe that there is indeed a limit to human chess-playing ability, well below computer levels>|
chess engines are intrinsically dumb about chess. they have little or no understanding per se, and in some types of positions they will remain clueless forever. hence, the idea about gauging <humans'> absolute chess strength by comparison to diffs in evaluations by chess engines without plans, understanding or awareness about their <human> opponents - i consider that a flawed idea from the beginning. <even if computers indeed had solved chess> (in terms of a hypothetical 32-piece table base), judging human vs human strength relationships by whether a human perfectly follows the theoretically optimal game-path from any given position would be nonsense in my opinion.
the purpose of a game of chess is to win. a great number of positions can only be won by accepting some temporary "sacrifice" (mostly positionally) in order to create a scenario where the chances to achieve a decisive result increases.
a generally stronger player that plays another very strong, but slightly weaker player could choose between two strategies in a hypothetical 6 game match:
a) always try to play the objectively best and soundest moves
b) occasionally try to unbalance the position, for instance by making some positional "sacrifice" (inviting/accepting a doubled pawn, going for a manouver that temporarily decreases his/her space advantage - the kind of things that make engine heuristics produce <lower> values for the player if there is no visible compensation within the horizon of its evaluation).
it's not hard to imagine that the end result for strategy a) would usually be 6 draws (assuming the players are quite close in strength, as was my assumption). for strategy b) the result would often be, given our assumptions, for example 2 wins and 1 loss for the stronger player.
what we do know almost for sure is that the "computer comparison method" would consider the player stronger if he chose method a) over b) - <regardless> of the outcomes of the games.
in conclusion: the point of a game of chess is to <win it> - that's how you win a tournament or a match. a strong and smart player does what it takes to achieve that, including playing moves he/she knows involves some risk and temporary weakening.
the computer eval comparison method implies a philosophy about what <strength> and <best> mean which isn't neutral or even natural - and i consider it to be <in conflict> with the strategy current day top players need to follow in order to succeed at the highest level. (consider how people complain about leko's fundamental strategy.)
this change in the <shear number> of highly skilled and technically adept players also explains why nobody can have insane 20 game win-streaks against fellow top players today. it's not because they are significantly weaker than fischer that they can't repeat such feats, but because their opposition is significantly stronger.
solid, technical players like leko and kramnik would've completely destroyed capablanca's opposition, probably more devastatingly than capablanca did himself. if we could've sent karpov at his peak back to face capablanca's typical opposition, it would've been a massacre too.
today, however, leko is "only" considered a very strong, solid and slightly boring player. 100 years ago he'd been really terrifying - and people today would've claimed he would've been destroying kramniks and anands and topalovs if given a chance. ;o)
|Jul-31-09|| ||nimh: <it still can be dead wrong, and "it" hasn't got a clue why it thinks so. :o)>|
Correct instances outweigh incorrect ones. You wouldn't determine the average height of men by basketballers and volleyballers. :)
|Jul-31-09|| ||frogbert: <you are entitled to your opinion,>|
augalv, thank you very much - that's generous of you.
<but I really don't see the need to resort to sarcasm and provocation in your comment.>
what's the provocation? that i don't consider capablanca's white play an effective way to win chess games against today's elite? that's an honest opinion and those who are provoked by that opinion own the problem.
could you please pinpoint a provocation to back up your claim, augalv?
|Jul-31-09|| ||visayanbraindoctor: My previous post by which I have already stated my disagreement with some of the more recent posts above has been pushed out of this page. In order not to give the impression that I agree with the more recent ones, I shall re-post it.|
I would like to point out to other kibitzers that are truly interested in the analysis of the Lasker-Schlechter World Championship Match (1910) that if I believed that the hypothesis above:
<If a master lived before WW2, he cannot be as strong as present day masters.>
is an axiom, I would not even bother to participate in <Bridgeburner's> ongoing computer analysis. Why? Because even if it, or any other analysis, shows that Lasker and Schlechter played perfect errorless chess throughout the match, I would still adhere to the axiom that <If a master lived before WW2, he cannot be as strong as present day masters.>
No 'proof' will ever be sufficient to make me change my mind.
So for those who believe that the above proposal is an untestable axiom, what I have to say is that I disagree with you, even if I respect any of your sincere thoughts on this.
For others who believe that it is a hypothesis testable by the comparative analysis of the games of World Championship matches throughout history, I would like to invite you to think through <Bridgeburner's> ongoing computer analysis. It is not yet completed; and according to <Bridgeburner> his estimated time for completion is on September. For details, please go to Bridgeburner chessforum
|Jul-31-09|| ||frogbert: <Correct instances outweigh incorrect ones.>|
nimh, that's true. it was mostly meant as a humorous comment to engines' fallible evaluations.
however, seeing how differently different engines assign values (even if they agree about the move, as quite often is the case between fritz and rybka) it's hard to decide on any "numeric levels" or eval-ranges to categorize mistakes.
also, in quite many endings (when still outside tablebases) it's <usual> that engines are clueless about which moves increase winning chances and which don't. and in lots and lots of possitions their evaluations indicate winning advantages when a strong human player immediately sees that the position is a draw.
hence, in order to have anything that resembles a meaningful method, these kinds of positions must be known. but do note my comment above:
<<even if computers indeed had solved chess> (in terms of a hypothetical 32-piece table base), judging human vs human strength relationships by whether a human perfectly follows the theoretically optimal game-path from any given position would be nonsense in my opinion.>
|Jul-31-09|| ||rogge: <<even if computers indeed had solved chess> (in terms of a hypothetical 32-piece table base), judging human vs human strength relationships by whether a human perfectly follows the theoretically optimal game-path from any given position would be nonsense in my opinion.>>|
So <obviously> true.
|Jul-31-09|| ||frogbert: <For the middlegame and the endgame, 99% or all of the patterns we see in 1910 to 1940 games are the same as today's. At least, I cannot distinguish a 1910 to 1940 game from a master game yesterday if I were to eavesdrop in the middlegame; they look exactly the same.>|
that looks like a challenge! i'll see if i find time for collecting some sample positions. maybe i'm prejudiced about the middle games played between 1910 and 1940 - so i need to play through a notable number of top level games from that period - but i find it hard to believe that you find anything similar to the number of "messy" middle games from that period compared to the number of such games i know and can dig out from say the last 15-20 years.
it will be an interesting exercise if i find time. :o)
|Jul-31-09|| ||rogge: Most people wouldn't be able to tell whether a game was played with rapid or standard time control ;)|
|Jul-31-09|| ||SwitchingQuylthulg: <frogbert: today, however, leko is "only" considered a very strong, solid and slightly boring player. 100 years ago he'd been really terrifying - and people today would've claimed he would've been destroying kramniks and anands and topalovs if given a chance. ;o)>|
Some people would. Others would claim Lékó's (probable) domination as evidence of how weak and undeveloped chess was back then and that he would be toasted by today's top players.
|Jul-31-09|| ||visayanbraindoctor: <Everett> I forgot to add. Janowski's exchange sacrifice did not always work out. In most cases, they were true strategical sacrifices; Janowski thought that he had adequate or more than adequate compensation. But sometimes he did not, or played weakly. For example, in the two cases above where he did the exchange sac against Capa, his initiative was beaten off. I might be giving the impression that exchange sacs win all the time. Not so.|
This game is interesting:
Capablanca vs Janowski, 1916
Janowksi did the exchange sac first. Then Capa also did the same thing later, returning the exchange. There are two exchange sacs in this game.
|Jul-31-09|| ||visayanbraindoctor: <SwitchingQuylthulg: Some people would. Others would claim Lékó's (probable) domination as evidence of how weak and undeveloped chess was back then and that he would be toasted by today's top players.>|
Interesting thought experiment. Here's another one (with no offense intended to GM Leko). Suppose it were 1914 that Leko went back to and it just so happened Lasker, Rubinstein, Schlecter, Capablanca, and Alekhine took turns in toasting him. Then he came back to present day. Gawd Peter, you must be such a moron that you got toasted by those oldies. (",)
|Jul-31-09|| ||visayanbraindoctor: I made an error. The other Janowski - Capablanca game above also featured an exchange sac by Capablanca. So both of the above cases had both Janowski and Capablanca sacking the exchange in exchange for positional and strategic compensation:|
Capablanca vs Janowski, 1913
Capablanca vs Janowski, 1916
In this game, Steinitz vs Janowski, 1898, Steinitz also returned the exchange, but it seemed to have been forced in a desperate attempt to survive Janowski's attack. So I would say that only Janowski sacked the exchange, and Steinitz later lost the exchange. Janowski won anyway.
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