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Member since May-04-12 · Last seen Sep-20-14
I am only a butterfly dreaming of being Chuang Zhu, dreaming of being Tiggler.

Favorite WCs all time: Kasporov, Alekine, Botvinnik, Lasker, Capablanca. Best of the rest: Nimzovitch, Rubinstein, Korchnoi, Keres. Bring back the 24 game WC matches and 12+ game candidates matches so that we can have heroic champs and challengers again. Kasparov, Alekhine, Botvinnik, Lasker, Capablanca, Steinitz, Nimzovitch, Tal, Morphy, Anand, Karpov, Fischer, Rubinstein, Keres ....

Apart from actual chess, the two topics that keep me coming back to this site are the mysteries of the Elo and related ratings schemes, and the the even more strange oddities of chess search engines.

With respect to ratings, I don't mean the routine operation of the calculations, but the scale which these operations create, sui gerenis. What is the mathematical basis, and is it reduceable to a Haar measure? Is there any reality hiding behing the statistical artifact? Are there undiscovered truths about the distribution of ratings points, and do they regress to the mean?

Engines are a big mystery to us. Not so big a mystery to us as we to them, however. <DcGentle> has a zealous purpose to create an engine that understands positional chess. If he succeeds, he will also create an engine that might be mistaken for a human, and whose moves will be explicable. My interest is more prosaic: to understand the engines in their own terms. Why do they not seem to perform correct searches at the depth they advertise. Would a better search result in more "chessic truth"? They are designed to win at short(ish) time controls, and compromise their searches to do it. But CC players need the really best moves, not some practical compromise. They don't build engines for that, so how can we trick the engines that we do have into finding the best moves, and not just winning because their blunders are not awful?

These questions lack answers, so if you have the answers, please be so kind as to post them in my chessforum. Full Member

   Tiggler has kibitzed 4162 times to chessgames   [more...]
   Sep-20-14 The World vs Naiditsch, 2014 (replies)
(replies) indicates a reply to the comment.

Never kid a kidder

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Premium Chessgames Member
  DcGentle: <Tiggler>: You are right, in the end he could not do much, because he lacked his knight. He could have moved a rook to the queenside, but this was in vain as well. He simply missed the move <Ka2> at the right moment of the game, when he was forced to move the king to a2, it was too late.

But to recognize this, was not easy for him... especially when he was not using any engine, and he didn't explicitly say this. Maybe he lurked on some engine output on the way, but this is not enough.

Some GMs have a strange relationship to engines, I know that Gelfand for example even looks down on engines. I mean, he may have had his experiences in earlier times, but nowadays engines are stronger.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Tiggler: < I know that Gelfand for example even looks down on engines. I mean, he may have had his experiences in earlier times, but nowadays engines are stronger.>

Refreshing to hear you say this, because sometimes your comments imply that you also look down on engines. However, I know your attitude is more nuanced than that.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Tiggler: <ChemMac: <tiggler> Geezers all unite! No complaint from me. Tiggler, where were you as a Prof? In my case: CCNY. "i love the sound of my own voice, and can listen to myself for hours - and they actually paid me for it for 45 years!">

Like you, I never left school, and am now Emeritus Prof. at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

I spent the last 20-some years here, but before that traveled around a bit more than you: Imperial College (London) - grad student and Lecturer (Asst. Prof.) for 16 years, University of Arkansas (Fayetteville) for 3 years, University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign)for 6 years.

Never played a lot of competitive chess, and none at all before age 30. Then a few years in Thames Valley leagues (team chess), a few games for Berkshire on a low board, a few weekend Swiss tournaments in mid-America, then 3-4 years of correspondence ending about 1991. At that time computers were forbidden, but illicitly used by some (not me). Correspondence rating was about 2100 (USCF), based on only about 30 games.

I do not recall ever playing anyone with an international title in a rated game, but I did play OTB, and occasionally beat, a few USCF masters.

Never played again after 1991, until joining the World Team in 2012 (vs GM Akobian). That was my first experience of computer-assisted chess.

Premium Chessgames Member
  DcGentle: Well, engines have their strengths and weaknesses. The following position arises in my summary (I gave the link on the WT pages, it's on the Analysis Forum)

click for larger view

Black to move and win.

But I have a warning, I showed this position to <peterfritz> who has most likely the fastest box of the team. And his latest Houdini 4 had the solution move on place 9 of its Multi-PV-output-list, after 10 minutes, I guess this means at least 35 ply on his box.

Not really encouraging, regarding today's engine performance, or is it? I found the move myself, with these positions my slower engine would find something like this overnight perhaps, but I lack the patience.

Premium Chessgames Member
  ChemMac: <DcGentle> stated - which I have just seen - that I did NOT (hmmm - emphatically?) object to his statement that ..d3 "ruined the game". I said later that I, in a Rapids game, would have immediately played ...d3 at that point. Given time for an in-depth calculation, I'd have surely used it! I can understand that the temperament of a correspondence player would prefer a different move. For such; "ruined" may be an appropriate term. On principle, that ...d3 was logical and indeed proved to be, possibly, the winning move. As I said, it made White play c4, giving a target for Black's b5, and that enabled Black's Q-side play. Computers may be fine, but ..d3 was for me an essential move for several reasons, both strategical and tactical. It was an intelligent move, which of course was no guarantee of it being also good!

I thank DcGentle for anointing me as being knowledgeable about Chess, but I never had time to study; opening theory in particular. As a player therefore, I often got into poor positions, especially with Black.

Premium Chessgames Member
  DcGentle: <ChemMac>: Well, as someone who is working on a new paradigm chess engine, I use to see things in chess more systematically, and the last team game demonstrated the power of pawn chains very convincingly. Especially the status of mild Zugzwang that was forced upon Black in this game made him helpless.

And we could have achieved something similar in this game, had the pawn structure be different! This is the main reason why I was so against <18... d3>! True, after the knight exchange White was also helpless in our game, but playing it differently had made him helpless earlier, without previous trades. This is the point most teammates have not understood by now, I guess.

I wrote an article about it: DcGentle chessforum. For educational reasons it starts slow, but the second part is the more important one.

I dunno whether you already noticed it, I wrote a summary (Analysis Forum chessforum) which contains a line to demonstrate what I mean.

Another advantage would have been, that all the blockade draws and other draw traps would have been avoided.

By the way, I published this link of my summary on the WT pages, but did not get any feedback.

Oh well.

All the best,

Premium Chessgames Member
  Tiggler: <DcGentle>:<This is the point most teammates have not understood by now, I guess.>

You persist in your assertion that your teammates lack understanding, whereas actually they just disagree with you.

I did see your summary. If I were at all convinced, I would try to refute it. I don't see the evidence that you tried to refute it yourself, however. If my students don't do that with their own work, I seldom go to the trouble to do it for them.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Bobwhoosta: <Tiggler>

An Ignorant's view on computers in chess:

I think the main reason computers are so dumb positionally and also don't "search accurately" at their supposed search depth is related to the inability to create a static numerical value that illustrates the potential in any one positional feature.

For instance, just taking split pawns, there are so many dynamic factors that come into play that you can't really say they're strong OR weak until you see some other positional factors. Now here's the REAL rub: Combining positional factors and then relating all of them to a numerical value is almost completely impossible. In fact, as we can see from Carlsen's games, it's possible for a number of extremely small advantages, each one minute and almost impercebtible by themselves, to quickly snowball into a huge advantage. Of course the near-perfection that computers show in short-term tactical decisions more than makes up for this relatively small weakness, but I think it will be some time before someone creates a set of parameters that explains positional imbalances accurately WITHOUT resorting to insanely long variations.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Tiggler: Hi <Bobwhoosta>! Nice to see you visit.

Yes, I agree with what you say, to the extent that I can grasp it.

I recall a game last year, when Carlsen won a rook ending as black. He had three versus two pawns on the king's side, and there were two pawns each on the Q's side.

Carlsen, in the post mortem, explained: without the Q-side pawns it is completely drawn. The only way to win is to make sure the Q-side pawns get in the way of the white rook.

Carlsen sacrificed, first one, and then the other of his Q-side pawns to maximally discombobulate white R. Then he attacked on the K- side and promoted a pawn.

How far, I thought, have the engines got to go before they can match the insight on this genius?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Bobwhoosta: <Tiggler>

I guess what I was saying is that computers tend to understand chess positions more concretely in terms of long lines of calculations.

In my opinion it's because positional features are difficult to express individually, and only make sense in the full context of the position. So attributing a numerical value to, say, an isolated queen's pawn is almost impossible.

I like one of the engines' ideas, using the space control as an evaluating tool in determining the numerical value of the position, but I think this will tend to favor possibly short-term activity over long-term structural defects. I suppose you could combine the two, and I bet that's how they do it, but overall it is difficult for me to look at engine evaluations as anything approaching an exact science.

For instance, 30 years ago if someone walked up to a position and said "+1.2" we wouldn't see that as giving ANY information about the position. It's unhelpful in a lot of ways to rely on this sort of evaluation as it contributes nothing to the understanding of the position. Of course we can see that as the number of engine trolls who denigrate high class players because Rybka shows a .1 defecit over the top move choice, all the while ignorant of the amazingly deep considerations that go into every move by the human players.

Anyway, this post is even more of a ramble than the last, so I'll stop now while I'm only a league behind... ;-P

Premium Chessgames Member
  DcGentle: <Bobwhoosta>: Nice to see you rambling about such an interesting topic, because what I am trying to do is just to <understand> Carlsen's positional moves, which is hard enough at times, but when you know _why_ something is happening, you found the reasons and will most likely be able to describe them.

Most fellow GMs say they don't know how Carlsen does the winning, they haven't understood it, and whether I can do it, I dunno either. Sometimes you see such commentary like: "This moves increases the activity of Carlsen's pieces." So? This is all? Congratulations. And what about possible opponent's actions? I can forgo such commentary.

But the truth is, maybe no one but Carlsen himself knows, what he is doing.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Tiggler: <Bobwhoosta> and <DcGentle>

This is the game I had in mind in my last post:

Anand vs Carlsen, 2013

While looking for it, I discovered this somewhat similar ending that Carlsen lost (blitz):

Carlsen vs Radjabov, 2013

Neither ending is free of errors, to be sure, but both are fascinating.

Feb-25-14  visayanbraindoctor: Thanks for the link. I will be sure to watch it.

Feb-25-14  visayanbraindoctor: <DcGentle: Most fellow GMs say they don't know how Carlsen does the winning, they haven't understood it>

I am not a GM, but this opinion surprises me. If I may comment to the contrary, it seems to me that Carlsen's ways of winning are rather positionally clear-cut. He grabs every square, diagonal, and file that he can, while prophylactically disallowing effective counterplay. The latter is especially important in his style; and he does it far better than any other active player today. In this sense he plays quite similarly to Karpov and in a way like a super-Petrosian. Imagine a more active Petrosian unwilling to give away early draws and is as relentless as Fischer is in endings, playing out every little advantage until there is nothing left to play for. But that's just my opinion.

What I think what the GMs mean is that they have not encountered such a style in years. it's not a 'normal' style. Recall Kramnik's comment after losing to Karpov that he did not understand what happened; he did everything according to what he knows of chess and yet still lost. I have studied that game- and in the end concluded that Karpov won by grabbing every square that he could while disallowing any effective counter-play, and kind of squeezed Kramnik off the board.

I have seen enough of both Karpov's and Carlsen's games to notice the similarity.

This kind of style is not the stereotypical 'brilliant' attacking game. That's why Petrosian, Karpov, and Carlsen rarely produce the kind of attacking 'chaotic' combinational game that Kasparov did. (See their most notable games collections.)

That's fine with me, to have a great positional world champion. I can hardly understand Kasparov's games when pieces begin exploding all over the board. I used to have Alekhine's best games collection. I admit I could not understand many of his games either; and prefer Capablanca's.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Tiggler: <visayanbraindoctor: Thanks for the link. I will be sure to watch it.>

Well it's a little outdated now, but this is what one could know less than three weeks after the event.

Mar-14-14  visayanbraindoctor: <Tiggler> You explained the explosion nicely. It was a mystery to lots of laymen. Thanks.

If I may ask, what is your accent? It doesn't quite sound American.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Tiggler: <visayanbraindoctor>: Certainly you may ask. Many are confused about my accent, including my countrymen here in the USA, and in my former country, the United Kingdom. I emigrated thirty one years ago at age 37.

I owe my academic education to the UK, and what seems to be the greater part of my adult life experience to the USA. I certainly no longer feel at home in Britain, when I visit.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Tiggler: Amusing ad hominem rant about <Tiggler>'s posting style may be found here:

twinlark chessforum

Note the use of Italian <capish>, seemingly used as the vernacular of threats.


Premium Chessgames Member
  twinlark: Didn't think so.
Premium Chessgames Member
  DcGentle: Hi <Tiggler>, I have found the true reason, why you cannot always trust the eval of current engines, at least in my opinion. There is evidence, of course too. Have a look: DcGentle chessforum

By the way, I made some inroads with my pursuit to understand and describe positional play, but it's not finished. Before you can formalize something, you have to understand it at least, and a written description may help.

Dynamic and static components play a role here, this makes it hard.


Premium Chessgames Member
  DcGentle: It's starting all over again:

The World vs Naiditsch, 2014

See also here: chessforum

I will not register yet, although I am excited. It's too early for me.


Premium Chessgames Member
  Tiggler: <DcGentle> Thanks for the news! Looking forward to working with old and new teammates.

Thanks also for the link to your latest insights on your forum. Sounds as though you are progressing towards a concrete plan.

Premium Chessgames Member
  DcGentle: <Tiggler>: Well, to be honest, I hesitated to sign up this time, one reason was the time needed for the analysis of the team game, which is lacking for the development of my engine then. I have to find a compromise there.

After all my engine might be more important, at least for me, but maybe for others too, it depends whether I will be successful or not.

And then there were some unfortunate developments in the last team game, which should not be repeated, I will simply keep a low profile for now.

We have 3 days per half move, this makes about one week for a whole move, this should help as well, mitigating some stress.

We'll see. Perhaps we'll have a better game in every regard this time, although we won the last one, this must be repeated first. ;-)

Premium Chessgames Member
  DcGentle: <Tiggler>: Thank you for your support.

I only want the best for the team and then this.

<Perhaps we'll have a better game in every regard this time, although we won the last one, this must be repeated first>

Yes, but how good this game will be, I don't really know. As White one should be able to strengthen the advantage of the first move, and it would have been possible.

But people seem to vote according to the opening explorer, no matter what.

Discussions about chess are not easier this time, I would say they are harder than last time. Some of the participants at least know a bit what they are talking about, but others... I don't want to mention any name here, but one of them is the loudest.

Forum discussions shouldn't be so frustrating.


I'll have to think about it.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Tiggler: <DcGentle>

This kind of silly noise goes with the experience. We have seen it enough times before, and this is not the worst example. Nor will it be the last, so let's just move on.

I know you recall that you and I did not agree about everything in the last game, but that's alright.

What cannot be accepted are personal attacks. I will never keep quiet when I see that. Do you remember that I defended <DanLanglois> in the game before last, when some were ganging up on him?

And in the same game earlier, <DL> had insulted me, and you spoke up.

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