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Thibault de Vassal (2007-06-15)
Online chess today
A few links to discussions at TCCMB (The Correspondence Chess Message Board) on chess servers nowadays, future of ICCF, correspondence chess [once more] and so on...
In the second discussion I tried to answer on the future of correspondence chess & chess engines :
1) Like the 'tour de France', it is impossible to organize a "bicycle race" at chess without doping today IMO. Also there are so many 'products' : Various books, databases, engines, human help.. so it seems to me that it is a non-sense to try to make it like an OTB tournament. Online chess is "motorcycle races" & freestyle, nothing else.
2) The ratio of wins does not decrease much in computer games & advanced chess (blitz), and correspondence chess games will never be all drawn IMO. We just have to follow the horizon line... Engines still have difficulties when there are 32 pieces on the board... Make the position more and more complex & critical, play Benoni structures, East indians and English openings... There will probably be more and more draws but when looking at CC 2500+ games, the ratio is still quite good. The problem at CC is mainly the style of play with humans 'humanly' trying to remain in known positions where they can win and can't lose.
'The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy', 'Opportunities multiply as they are seized' (Sun Tzu)
A solution is to make rules that motivate players to avoid draws, particularly when playing against a higher rated opponent. (ie. the rule for FICGS 8-games matches)
3) We feel that engines play almost perfect chess because of our poor human's level of play (I should say ratings)... But engines & computers have to improve a lot yet - not obvious they can do it in a more or less near future -, the horizon line is not so far, each version of Rybka wins about 30 elo points... We'll see engines at level 3200, 3300 maybe much more... (4000 ?)
4) If too many players have their CC rating between 2750-2800 in future, we can make new rules : Ratings wouldn't be calculated on the basis of each game, but on the basis of ie. 8-games matches... Then strategy would be more important & we would see rating gaps again between the best players...
Finally if I'm completely wrong, play Big Chess ;D
Thibault de Vassal (2007-06-20 22:54:33)
Well, the discussion with Tryfon Gavriel continues at TCCMB. As I had to explain the way I make FICGS, I copy my responses here :
Hello again Tryfon !
That's a very interesting discussion...
Actually I have to explain FICGS in its whole to respond :) .. To be continued for sure..
While registering a new member wrote to me a few months ago "Thanks for creating this ultimate chess challenge" or so... That's exactly what I try to do, mostly with the FICGS championship knockout & round-robin rules... Players just want challenge, that's the only assumption I start with, so I try to create interesting challenges. About the intellectual part, you're right but I'm quite sure that top level correspondence chess players still consider their game as an intellectual challenge, much more than a brute force or computer skills one. That's not the case for Advanced chess with fast time controls.
Let's take a look at the bicycle races again... The "Tour de France" is dying IMO.. because everyone understood we "don't know" if the champion is ok.. If doping was allowed (it would be a scandal for health of course), I'm sure the interest would raise again ! I think it is the same for chess & for everything else... The "Tour de France" syndrom happened in Elista with the match Kramnik vs. Topalov... It will have consequences. We need champions and we want true champions, every means are ok for this ! .. So the "engines allowed" rule is the only one possible or reasonable in my opinion.
Of course, chess & correspondence chess are changing, because these "walls" are nearer & nearer... maybe chess will die, maybe not.. The main problem is that in 1997, a super computer became World Champion... this year a "simple" computer Deep Fritz became world champion, soon Rybka on a cellular phone... :) Who is really interested to be a champion in "human category" ? FIDE world chess championship will continue to progressively lose its interest IMO...
Correspondence chess is just starting to grow in popularity and is told to be dying already. Surely correspondence chess will ask more & more time at a high level to win a few points, but it is possible to create more challenge by ie. changing the rating rules (the "design" of Elo rating system will become a problem).. Then, if it is not enough, we'll look for other challenges... It's told for years that Go (Weiqi) will replace chess in western countries... why not Big chess as the "brain only" game if there can't be doping in it.. just trying, as there's no other solution :)
A word about Poker of course, as it's probably the fastest growing game in popularity : IMO this game is at a stade like chess in year 1900, but the same problem will happen, even quicker. At a high level the game will be just more and more boring (if you wish to win real money) or chancy (in a wch tournament), or you'll have to always find weak players (well, not very challenging).
About the simultaneous exhibition against Alekhine or Capablanca, I'm not sure at all they would crush everyone at our chess servers, they are undoubtly more talented than all of us, but I feel it wouldn't be enough in all cases to win against correspondence chess style of play & knowledge accumulated for 50 years... A few players rated OTB 2000-2200 could draw against them IMO...
At last, yes I'm a fan of Sun Tzu's "The art of war" :) .. I strongly believe that correspondence chess will not die in the next few years because players will follow its principles more and more, as the only way to win ! .. Big chess follows the same principles... and Go is the most challenging game because of it too !
Tryfon, I'm not sure that we're opposite in our vision of chess ! .. Our servers have obviousy different goals, nothing more.. I do enjoy playing mad blitz games without chess engines... I just believe that the future of internet chess is "serious (engines allowed, rated) correspondence chess" on one hand and "human chess for fun (no engines, unrated)" on the other hand... The other ways look like nonsense to me.
I hope it responds.
Best wishes, Thibault
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