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Kasparov on Watson, in Brief

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Of course Kasparov has been deluged with requests for comment on the IBM computer Watson's success on the American game show Jeopardy. Unfortunately, he was traveling in Georgia when the show was on, so while we had vaguely followed the various IBM press announcements, it wasn't anything he'd given much thought to. After the show was over, with a convincing victory for the computer (perhaps owing a great deal to its buzzer speed, or not, but it still had to answer correctly) we had time to go over what had happened, read some of the IBM team's materials, and even watch some of the programs online. Afterwards, Garry gave some quick thoughts and remarks to the site of one of my favorite magazines (and websites), The Atlantic. They've invited Garry to write a full piece on Watson and AI for the print magazine as well.

Ironically, someone in the comments there (the ones that aren't derailed into just the sort of Deep Blue blather Garry was keen to avoid by commenting on another IBM project) brings up how the combination of man and machine is stronger than either, and how a machine like Watson could be a great help with a little human common sense oversight. This of course is exactly the point Garry made in his New York Review of Books piece last year, using Advanced Chess as an example. That piece, by the way, along with garnering invites for Garry speak at Google and other places, has also been picked up for several textbooks and best non-fiction compilations.

As proposed by Garry in his Atlantic comments, I actually went ahead and entered some of the show's questions into Google and got pretty good results. When you consider Watson is working with fantastically well organized and cross-referenced facts and Google is working with the entire internet (where there are so very few facts...), it's pretty good at homing in on pages that contain the answers. Watson's ability to formulate specific answers is impressive, but since most of them are nouns and titles, it's not like it's forming grammatically correct sentences. Maybe one day Watson can save us from those epic "press one if your want to ask about suicide" phone trees you get when you call just about any company or help line these days. Might put a few thousand Indians out of work.

And on the even lighter side, this fellow's blog entry starts, "For absolutely no good reason, I found myself wondering what a chess game would sound like if played on the piano."


"For absolutely no good reason, I found myself wondering what a chess game would sound like if played on the piano."
Apparently Savielly Tartakower thought about this too, Mig, and in 'Moral Victories' (a novel about Tartakower by David Lovejoy) the grandmaster works with Prokofiev on a scheme to play chess games as musical notes. It's not as well thought out as the blog you link to, but it's probably a recurring idea among chess players.

The music constituting John Cage's Reunion, performed in Toronto in 1968, was generated by a chess game played between Cage and Marcel Duchamp. A recent reenactment included Pascal Charbonneau and Jennifer Shahade:


finally the hidden link between chess and music is revealed :)

A Magnus game probably ends up sounding like "Ride of the Valkyries".

LOL. Jeez. For sure, now, RuralRob is a frackin' intellectual. With that handle, who would've thunk it?

Also, thanks for the link, Stephen.

It is interesting to see the progress being made on the field of AI. Watson ability to analyse, combine and interpret different data is amazing. However, it does not answer questions about the kind of intelligence a computer has or can have.

Will a computer one day be able to produce something new? Or is AI not "artificial" but rather a mirage?

I wonder if an experiment like the following would be possible: give all possible scientific knowledge available at 1880 to a computer and program it in a way that it "understands" the enviroment it "lives" in. Would a computer be able to develop a car under those circumstances?

"Understanding" the enviroment in a way that enables the machine to act out certain programmed behaviour according to the need of a spontaneously occuring situation, which we can already see in todays robots and computers (including Watson) is for sure an amazing achievement in computer science. But does that really denote intelligence?

Or doesn't intelligence go way over reproducing known fact into the realm of creating/finding new/unkown knowledge?

But maybe one day computers will have that ability, to learn something new without the need of outside programming.

The take-home from this is the same as the take-home from chess machines: human + computer is much better than either human or computer.

Watson was not allowed to access the Internet during the game per rules.

"offered via e-mail through an aide:"
Mig, are you reduced to GK's aide? You'll always be much more then that to me.

Thank you for repeating what is already written in Migs post. My comment was going in a completely different direction.

Of course human + computer is better than either. That is so trivial that one does not even need either to know it.

"Of course human + computer is better than either"

Don't be so sure. Matthew Broderick + WOPR nearly nuked the entire planet, remember?

I don't think this is true in general. When it applies it's because the computer in question is not yet good enough, but that will be sure to change in the near future. Even for chess programs it's hardly true anymore.

From a recent episode of the Georgian "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire":

Kasparov: "If only we'd phoned Mig..."
Dasha (his wife): "Garik, don't despair!".

In the end they still won. See if you could have matched their 15 correct answers :)


So Mig-- be honest, did you know this?

"They don’t know any Morse Code other than SOS, and so decide to “phone a friend”. The question is whether to phone Mig Greengard, in New York, or Dennis (I think) in Moscow. Garry says at one point that he’s 100% sure Mig would know. Dasha even starts to rehearse the question in English (“the language of Morse”), but in the end they choose Moscow. It’s something of an anticlimax as the person they phone doesn’t manage to answer before time runs out. Garry: “If only we’d phoned Mig”. Dasha: “Garik, don’t despair!”.

From the article linked to by mishanp.

I did well on the non-Georgian ones. Guessed both #15s, the second one was more clear, as they conclude, it was only a "bluff" of second-guessing, though "5" used to be 3 dashes in American Morse before Internationalization, so 100% from Mig is pushing it. #8 was tough, as you need to know both east and west chronology. I didn't realize the years correctly. After the 50:50 I'd have chosen the right #14 (I had the same first instinct as Garik).

Women's Grand Prix:

4 former World Champions

Record so far (games against each other omitted):
Round 1: 0-2
Round 2: 1 1/2 - 2 1/2
Round 3: 0-0

Only 4 draws so far, 3 by Cramling.

Reminds one of the odd circumstance that Kasparov chose to marry a woman named "Daria", which is the name of Kramnik's daughter.

Alas the article (snippets) linked to was very disappointing. As is the case whenever kasparov writes about computers (and god forbid his nemesis IBM)the bitterness of his emphatic loss in 1997 is always there. The hollow sound of his absurd and childish cheating allegations still echoes. He really cannot move on can he? Personally I found some of his ideas embarassingly shallow and gopher ghost writer Mig did not help. "Cannot understand what they cannot understand" this bears all the hallmarks of migs ultra leaden wit. The google comparison entirely misses the point. The point being that its the programs ability to correctly interpret spoken language which matters. The possibility that the IBM team have demonstrated some real advance in this key AI field is what is significant.

Well, as they say about a dog riding a bicycle, it's not that he can ride well, but we are amazed he can ride at all. Same thing with a chess player commenting on computer science or writing political articles for newspapers.

The odd thing should be Kramnik naming his daughter after Kasparov's third wife, even if that doesn't qualify as odd either with such a common name.

In 1844 the telegraph was invented. That same year the first chess match by telegraph was contested between which two cities?

A. New York and Philadelphia
B. Baltimore and Washington
C. Chesterville and Wilmington
D. Annapolis and West Point

Yep, only a few names are disqualified: "Adolf" is no longer popular in Germany, the same may be the case for Jozef (Stalin) in Russia. And if Kramnik gets a son, he probably won't call him Veselin ... .


I simply have no idea why Kasparov married Dasha when he could have gone for a much better and more talented Elina Danielian.


From the article:

"The Russian world chess champion defeated IBM supercomputer Deep Blue in 1996, then lost in a six-game rematch in 1997 that surprised many and revealed a nascent truth: In closed-system contests of raw data computation, computer technology had evolved an edge over the most talented and disciplined human minds."

"For example, Deep Blue had no real impact on chess or science despite the hype surrounding its sporting achievement in defeating me. If Watson's skills can be translated into something useful, something groundbreaking, that is the test. If all it can do is beat humans on a game show Watson is just a passing entertainment akin to the wind-up automata of the 18th century."

Typical "computers are dumb calculation machines" whining and pie-in-the-sky claims about what AI should give us in the future. These sorts of comments do a disservice to modern chess engines. Their heuristics are impressive enough to beat the best human players in the world, yet, instead of celebrating that, we get the usual tripe about mindless number crunching versus true machine learning.

It's not obvious whether a chess computer that automatically adapts its algorithms as new data becomes available will be better than the current approach. Yes, what a pity that computer chess has been successfully tackled by conventional means - the important scientific advances are only going to come if we use AI for these problems!

uhh... Impressive heuristics in chess programs? Are you sure they are so impressive? Most likely they are just fast.

The AI research has pretty much concluded over ten years ago that maximum computer software chess playing strength is mostly correlated by hardware speed and not by improvements in algorithms. The size of the opening database and endgame tablebases are also dumb static information. And heuristics fall into that category too. If a small change comes to the rules of chess, they would fail miserably.

The Watson approach is another way and very interesting as such. It would not win a chess game, not even play one, but occasionally with luck it might find a legal move or "claim" that it was a chess move. But even that would be wonderful, if it could be used to improve analysis of sciences even humans have hard time understanding, like medical science.

Computers may be mindless, they may be dumb but they have fast memory... And they may find correlations between things they dont fully understand. If you can utilize that to support problem solving it is giving a new dimension. People using Google are like cyborgs already, using web either as an extension to their local memory or as a way to find new information. This pattern has plenty of possibilities for AI.

The heuristics are impressive regardless of what sort of opinion you hold on computer chess - the "correct" move just doesn't fall into your lap because you have a ton of processing power. Early chess engines aren't even close to being on par with what we have today in terms of "chess smarts".

It's incredibly misleading to claim that heuristics will fail under a small rule change. As long as you're not making sweeping changes to the principles of chess, minor tweaks to the position evaluation algorithm would likely accommodate that.

Why should their be such a fixation with how mindlessly computers carry out their number crunching? The intelligence comes from the programmers and master level players involved in creating and fine tuning the program (also, in the case of Deep Blue and Hydra, the specialized hardware). Bitter chess players who fixate on this point or on the "unfair advantages" in speed and perfect recall won't change anything. They'll simply move the goal posts - we've already gone from "computers will never beat human masters" to "computers will never beat the top human Grandmasters" to "computers don't play certain positions well (e.g. blockades)" - but there isn't much more room to move them.

One last comment, and that should about my quota for the year.

I'm glad that IBM took on this Watson project and ended up succeeding with it. A lot of people in the technology world have been wondering what they're up to these days, and there had been quite a few comments about them becoming a patent house with no real tech to show for it. Here they show some innovation (perhaps not up to the lofty standards of Kasparov, but quite impressive IMO) which might have some commercial potential down the road, and it keeps them in the mind of the public as well as other businesses.

The heuristics used in modern chess engines are surprisingly simple. But anyway - it took much effort for generations of programmers to find and optimize them. Effort means creativity, analytic thinking and endless testing with trial and error.
And this is not the end of the story. Probably there are more of such 'simple heuristics' to discover, which allow engines to improve in positions they are still relatively weak.

Also the human brain works 99+x percent with simple heuristics, if you believe the current literature of neural sciences.

The history of so called AI is a schedule of hypes and disappointments. I worked in that domain for several years. Kasparovs short comments are very down to earth reasonable.

Anyway we live in times with much of 'AI' in our technical surroundings. Industrial Robots, Waste Sorting systems, OCR, Speach recognition devices etc.
It might be still a long way for the first engine to pass the Turing Test. But it will probably happen with a combination of knowledge bases, efficient search algorithmes, calculation power and a bunch of 'simple heuristics'. Simple, but optimized, regarding the problem and regarding the resources for solving the problem.

I agree, the Watson project was a statement. IBM research did a lot in the past, including noble prize winning discoveries. At least they did splendid advertisement, where they were weak in times when Microsoft became a giant.
But did Watson generate new revolutionary insights for future development? I doubt. I would see it as another small logical evolutionary step. But at the same time a really impressive one!

To a scientist, it seems that IBM would rather do "research" for publicity purposes rather than to advance knowledge. I don't begrudge them making a profit out of a real technological gain, but to increase stock value on paper through media hype is not so cool.

Round 4: 2 1/2 - 1 1/2
Round 5: 1/2 - 1 1/2
Round 6: 0 - 4 (!!!)

Cumulative score of former WCs: 4.5 - 11.5

Danielian 5 1/2 - 1/2

I prefer to use velveeta for the planters.

"Le Quang Liem and the Soviet School of Chess": http://bit.ly/ibMGFD

Admittedly both Liem and the Soviet School qualify as "riddles, wrapped in mysteries, inside enigmas"... and putting them together doesn't make for a straightforward story :) but it's really interesting to see particularly the Russian reaction to the rise of Asian chess.

Round 7: 1-3, Total = 5.5-14.5

Danielian 6.5 - .5

Thanks a lot, mishanp. You are, as always, an oasis in the desert...

Good reading, esp. for fans of young Le.

All this talk, and now Danielian lost. She drops down to +5 now. She is so erratic-either the top or the bottom of the standings for her.

Humpy gets to play 3 tail-enders, so she could easily make up the point deficit. Still, I'm not convinced that she would be the toughest challenger for Hou Yi-Fan. Humpy's nerves seem to lead to weak play. She can't afford to give away games to Hou.

A question, Mishanp:

You quoted Tomashevsky as saying, "Le Quang Liem is less governed by positional considerations than by concrete calculation: “if there’s no forced loss, then that means everything’s ok” – the computer approach to chess, which may well be the future."

Could you flesh out the meaning of 'the computer approach to chess?'
I didn't really get that.

It possibly doesn't really fit there... but I just meant that computers are happy to play positions that would horrify e.g. Kramnik (or most chess players brought up on positional principles) just as long as the variations they calculate show a reasonable evaluation. I think players brought up first and foremost with computers are much more likely to think that way themselves (concretely rather than in terms of general considerations) - and it's also becoming a feature of everyone's chess as opening analysis reveals more and more ugly but good moves.

OK. Got it: horrifying king exposures, anti-principle moves, and the like. The end justifies the means.

Yep, that's the sort of thing I meant e.g. playing g2-g4 after castling short - I think it was Svidler in his Crestbook conference who said he had a trainer who would refuse to work with pupils if they ever did that!

Knowing that, I'm personally curious now as to whether Max Vachier-Lagrave, a fierce calculator like Le Quang Liem, also plays for ends regardless of means. I haven't looked at his games closely enough. He and Le are very similar not just in age, but also in that their chess education was split between the machine and formal sessions with IMs and GMs. I *believe* that Maxime has a good, intentionally developed positional understanding. I don't know if he is as sharp tactically as Le. Maybe. He didn't do as well as Le in Moscow. But could Le have finished in the upper half of the A group at Wijk aan Zee?

Anyway, there are others who straddled both worlds in their development, I'm sure, but I can't name them with any certainty. Carlsen? So? Nakamura? Chinese elite GMs, as suggested in the interview? Other young, non-Russians?

Rd. 8: 1-1 (2 draws);
Rd. 9: 1/2 - 1 1/2;

Total = 7 - 17

Danielian: 7.5 - 1.5 (7-1-1)

You may be right about the chances of Le vs. Vachier-Lagrave in Opens and supertournaments. Le always seems to play for a win (his own words) which can backfire against the very strongest opposition, VL seems to be a bit more solid - his main problem at Aeroflot were too many draws. But Le Quang Liem's supertournament debut in Dortmund last year was by no means bad.

Regarding other players, Caruana may be an interesting case. He may have started as a self- and computer-made chess player (which coaches did he have while living in the USA?), then moved to Europe to work with experienced coaches - primarily Hungarian, but also Russian. Did this make him change his style?

Finally, while I don't know much about Tomashevsky, he seems to be a positional player himself. Ironically, in his Aeroflot game against Le, putting his knight on the right square (d4) at the wrong moment turned out to be a tactical oversight ... .

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Well, I think Tomashevsky would be the first to admit that he is not the tactical genius that Le apparently is (you could probably count those guys with ten fingers or less), but as he's Russian, I make the assumption that his was a more or less formal education, a palace kid, if such a thing existed when he was a child.

V-L is held back on leader boards by his propensity to draw. Of course, he doesn't lose very often either. How many loses did he have for all of last year (into Tata Steel)? I'll bet less than ten, and he was pretty active.

Now I can see Le continuing to improve (by his nature and love for the game). I hope the same is true for V-L. After the last few months worth of games, it's evident that they're both inconsistent, eh? But great talents.

I keep going back to Nakamura-VL at Wijk aan Zee. If V-L even holds that game, the leader board is a crash site. But it was a psych-out in my mind, as much as anything. One loss. Hold Anand, Kramnik, and Aronian, but lose to Nakamura?

"I make the assumption that his was a more or less formal education, a palace kid, if such a thing existed when he was a child."

He was still a toddler when the Soviet Union was collapsing, so I don't think there was much formal chess education available (the system, in so far as there was one, collapsed very quickly). Still, he seems to have got lucky with his coaches: http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=5314

Tomashevsky has other qualities - some of his endgame squeezes at Aeroflot were a bit reminiscent of Kramnik or Leko. And playing style, (relative) strengths and weaknesses depend on other things than just country of origin and chess education: Nepomniachtchi, another young Russian, is tactically strong and seems to like 'weird' positions.

I wouldn't say that Vachier-Lagrave and Le are very inconsistent, not any more than what's sort of normal at their age - certainly less than some more established players such as Ivanchuk, Shirov and Morozevich.
Le had a rather bad second half of 2011 (after Dortmund), maybe because he was suddenly in the spotlights and couldn't quite cope with the pressure?
Vachier-Lagrave's Aeroflot result wasn't all bad: after all he just lost 2 rating points and mainly due to his loss against Sjugirov - another young, upcoming and maybe somewhat underrated Russian. In most events, even a rating favorite has to overperform to finish on top. Interestingly, VL often scores +2 regardless of the exact strength of the event: Biel 2009 and 2010, Aeroflot 2010 and 2011, Tata 2011. Sometimes this was good, even good enough for (shared) first, sometimes it's a bit disappointing ... .

On VL's loss against Nakamura: I think it just comes down to the opening. The Grunfeld is risky and double-edged, so anyone playing it (so do I at my level) knows that "anything can happen". One mistake can be fatal - ask Anand about his first match game against Topalov.
In Wijk aan Zee, VL scored 1.5/3 with the Grunfeld: win against out-of-form Shirov, loss against in-form Nakamura, draw against so-so(?) Kramnik. Next time he faces the same opponents with black, the overall score might be the same (1/3 wouldn't be a disaster either), but the individual results could well be different.

Elsewhere in Women's Chess, Humpy qualifies for the World Title Match against Hou.

And in knitting Baron Von Rothchild is in the Mens Final...go Baron

Well, I'm not sure that Humpy will fare better against Hou than Dzagnidze. Despite her fine finishing result, Humpy obviously is particularly affected by nerves in high pressure situations. She is liable to underperform in the cauldron of a World Championship match.

Does anybody know the length of the match (scheduled # of games)?

Who knows what is up with Dzagnidze, but it looks like she is improving, and could easily cross the 2600 threshhold to join Hou and Humpy. She is a formidable tactician.

The match will be 10 games....wouldn't be surprised to see Anand try to help Humpy in preparation for Hou.

I would be shocked beyond all measure of words to see Anand waste his time.

Some of the best male Chinese GMs may support Hou Yifan, and Qatar hired Morozevich as Zhu Chen's second (money ain't no issue!?). So Anand supporting Humpy Koneru wouldn't be ALL unusual and might not be just a waste of time - additional publicity for chess in India = more sponsoring?!

Another story is:
- Would he be willing and able (busy schedule ...) to do it?
- Who might pay him (generously enough)?
- How far would Vishy go? Would he share some secret opening novelties??

Remember that Anand cares greatly about Indian chess -- both mens and womens. He knows the impact a Women's World Champion would have on the popularity of the game. Humpy is essentially the same rating Giri was when he had Giri over to help him train for the Topalov match (2610 ish). It wouldn't be a huge shock for me to see Humpy do a session like Giri did.

And I'm sure the Indian government would compensate Vishy for his time...its not like he really has anything better to do for this year -- the next super GM tourney isn't until June (which I don't think he's playing in anyway).

Vishy might be willing to work with Humpy, but he would certainly not do it pro bono. Given Humpy's strained relations with the Indian Chess Federation, she cannot expect any help from them. Maybe Tata will be willing to part with a few hundred thousand $$?

The Indian Government itself (and this is a good thing, probably) will not subsidize Humpy, or Anand--any more than they do their team of Olympic athletes. And we can see how well that has worked out. The problem is that in India, Cricket dominates the *mass* sporting interest, to the exclusion of all other sporting competitions. There are plenty of individuals and corporations flush with $$, but unlike (say, in Bulgaria) that money is not "directed" to the support of the career of a star chess player.

The big risk to Anand is that he helps Humpy, and she fails anyhow.

Yes Anand cares a lot about Indian chess - that's why he gave five other players the chance to represent the country at Olympiads!? ,:) I don't know what Giri's role in Anand's match preparation was, reportedly playing some blitz games to test his openings. For such a job, Anand would be "overkill", but maybe he could loan his second Ganguly?

As you/we mentioned Giri: he might be the missing sixth player to complete the Dortmund field. In an interview after Tata with the German magazine "Schach", his coach says that "they are talking with the organizers". He also mentions that they're hoping for a FIDE wildcard for the World Cup, this year held 26th August-21st September (when temperatures in Khanty-Mansiysk might be above the freezing point?).
BTW, standard procedure used to be that supertournament organizers choose their moment for a press release - currently Nakamura announces his participation ASAP ... .

Giri's role was to help Anand become comfortable playing the Catalan against 2600+ level competition (since he had never played it before and wanted to play it against Topalov). No reason Humpy couldn't have a similar arrangement, since Humpy is as strong as Giri was during that time.

Anand has done more for chess in India than anyone, so I won't begrudge him for not playing in the Olympiad last year. Besides, it actually was the reason he became #1 as everyone else imploded (especially Carlsen), allowing Vishy to retake world #1 shortly thereafter.

Wow...the World Cup is going to be August-September this year? Thanks for that info. That's huge, since the top 3 finishers will automatically qualify for the Candidates Tournament for the 2014 WCC cycle. I wonder how many of the top players will play there?

Regarding Naka, its nice that he allows the chess fan some insight as to the process of tournament invitations. I am very glad he decided to let people know ASAP what tournaments he's playing in. It would be nice if the other top players did the same.

I never said Vishy would work pro bono, nor should he. But its not unfeasible for such an arrangement to take place. Vishy is good at keeping things like this secret -- he had to be pressed by the media several times even after beating Topalov before he would admit that Giri helped him with his match preparation.

I'm pretty sure that if Vishy helps her, it will be done in secret, and that no one will know about it unless Humpy wins the match against Hou. That's consistent with Vishy's temperament -- and with how Kasparov and Carlsen helped Vishy for his match against Topalov.

Don't you guys read Chessbase? Anand has followed Humpy's GP with great interest. Chessbase reads Times of India. And I don't think we should discount the possibility that India sees the fun of having both world champs.


Only Vishy Anand among Indians has reached thus far (world title match). And the undisputed world chess champion in all formats of the 64-square game has been following the Doha meet keenly. He spoke to TOI from Chennai:

How would you describe the significance of what Humpy has achieved?

It's a fantastic win. She has been missing out a lot of these events. She came close in knockout format twice but couldn't finish it off. I was following the GP from the beginning and things were not going well for her initially. Once Danielian Elina (Armenia) started doing well, it became worse for Humpy. She had to depend not only on her result but also on other results. But full credit to her for fighting it out, especially in the last two games.

How do you see the evolving of Humpy as a super player among women?

She has managed to keep her high rating comfortably. But that big breakthrough was not happening. Now she gets an opportunity. India-China rivalry is good for chess. Having said that, Hou is a ridiculously talented girl.

What's the way to beat Hou?

Humpy has to be tactically much more alert. The initiative has to be converted into a point. She has to find a way to improve her technique. There is no point in outplaying someone if (she) can find an escape tactically. Hou is not a clear favourite as such. But she is dangerous.

You don't advocate the word revenge that strongly. But the match against Hou provides just that kind of opportunity for Humpy...

If revenge motivates you, go for it! But the main thing is to set your game in order. She has to train well and continue her good run in other events preceding the title match, the schedule of which is unclear.

Any comments on the problems between Humpy and AICF (Humpy had skipped the Olympiad and Asian Games recently)?

I would advice Humpy to forget everything. Just concentrate on the game.

Humpy reaching the title clash also happened in proximity to International Women's Day...

It adds a nice touch. Humpy reaching this far is a huge thing for women's chess in India.

Hans Phlucking had several pheasants. One day he hired a farm hand called William Flooks. Flooks loved to pluck those phlucking pheasants. Flooks also cooked a phlucking pheasant he had plucked. A book about Flooks plucking and cooking those phlucking pheasants was then written.

Another farm hand named Henrik Foocks was hired. Foocks could pluck and cook those phlucking pheasants must faster than flooks could. Flooks and Foocks plucked and cooked a lot of phlucking pheasants.

One day they played a game of chess. Flooks rook took Foocks rook while Foocks was plucking and cooking a phlucking pheasant. Afterwards they played some hockey. Foocks hit the puck off Foocks foot and the puck got stuck in a phlucking pheasant that had been plucked and cooked!

I agree wholeheartedly.

I disagree with you!

Disagree on one thing. Humpy is no where near as strong as Giri was at that time.
Rating is not everying. Giri is a far more talented player than Humpy, seems much more, is very tricky with tactics....

Humpy generally plays a quite positional game, and falls for tatics all the time.
Anand in an interview even pointed out that Humpy needs to be far more tactically alert.

Positional understanding is something that is learned over time, it can be taught, how you measure talent is tatics.

I disagree. Tactics are important, but overrated. Positional understanding is quite important and harder to learn. Its a different talent to be able to master positional understanding than to master tactics...one is not necessarily more important than the other. Obviously the world class players are masters at both.

As world champion Max Euwe has said: "Strategy requires thought; tactics requires observation"

I couldn't disagree more actually from my observation chess is 90% tatics. But, obviously this is hard to prove one way or other. There is some anecdotal evidence though: the top players right now: Anand, Carlsen, Aronian are all known for their tricky play...

But, I guess the main point of the discussion was if Anand can work with Giri why not Humpy when both were rated about the same. The answer I believe is that Anand would have far more to gain by training against a tricky/clever player in an opening that was unfamiliar to him, than against a strong positional player, who would at any rate have less positional understanding than Anand himself.

Also, I don't think Euwe could have predicted the rise of computers in chess, which clearly show that you can pretty much crush anyone with very limited positional understanding as long as you can see further ahead.

I would take a world champion's observation over yours. No offense, but Euwe forgot more chess in his lifetime than either you and I will ever know.

That's a fair point about Giri, but its not as though he was so much stronger then than Humpy is now. It is definitely doable. It is my opinion that tactics are easier to improve than positional understanding, but that's my bias since my style is dynamic and not positional.

I agree with you that Giri already was stronger than Koneru at the time: his rating was continuously improving, so he was always officially underrated - I would say he still is, his "final destination" may be 2720, 2750 or even 2800. By comparison, Koneru stagnated at/around her current Elo, now for 2 1/2 years. Does she want more, and what would it take? Working on her tactical weaknesses, a new coach, more frequently playing against stronger (male) opponents, ... !?

But I disagree about "90% tactics", for two reasons:
1) If this was true, it would be amazing what Koneru achieved based on just 10% ... .
2) Combinations often don't come out of the blue, but rest on a positional foundation. It's easier to mate the opponent's king if your pieces are on the right squares, you control the center and/or have a space advantage. 100% positional games exist, 100% tactical games - not so sure about it, unless the fireworks start from a (memorized) opening position.
Top players obviously have both qualities: Kramnik and Leko are primarily positional players, but can also sacrifice material (they just don't go for unclear or speculative sacrifices). Shirov is a strong tactician, but also a strong endgame player.

Hi Mig,

BlogFront.org is committed to uphold the quality standards of blogging. We strive to maintain and promote only the most credible blogs in their respective fields.

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Maria Blanchard
Blog Revolucion


BlogFront.org is committed to uphold the quality standards of blogging. We strive to maintain and promote only the most credible blogs in their respective fields.

Spam blogs or "splogs" has been a problem for some time now and people are getting confused about which blog to trust.

We would like to thank you for maintaining such a reputable blog. We know that it takes time, effort and commitment to keep such a blog and as such, we have added your blog as one of the top Chess Blogs.

You can see your blog listed here: http://blogfront.org/chess/2

You can also claim your BlogFront Top Blogs badge at http://blogfront.org/badges/chess

Thank you for keeping your blog credible. Let's keep the blog revolution alive!

Maria Blanchard
Blog Revolucion

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