The Beauty of chess



Svidler on Chess24 was great the whole match. For a Russian GM he is equally comfortable talking about cricket or Terry Pratchett if there was a long lull in the game.

Carlsen’s rapid FIDE rating is now over 2900!!!


yes, I switched to chess24 and Svidler/Gustafson … the best chess commentators I know are the St. Louis guys, Maurice Ashley, Yasser Seirawan and Alejandro Ramirez, Jennifer Shahade… but they did not have a WC show going…


chess24 had commentary which Peter Svidler for most of the match (at least the last half I think) and he along with GM Jan Gustafsson did a good job, but the best part quite possibly was this explanation of en passant:

Qh6+ to end the match was a beautiful finish


Not really my cup of tea. It’sokay, I think all of them are likeable, but the amount of actual chess content is too low for my taste when the time control is longer than 30 minutes. Too much stuff going on I don’t like, for example viewer calls and show elements. And Ashley’s color commentary is annoying. He has scaled this back in the last year though.


I love how funny they find that the software doesn’t get the rules right! To me it would be a smile and a shrug, but they’re all giggles for minutes! They even remark on it themselves!


There have been some high class games in the Sinquefield Cup this year. MVL beating Carlsen (as black no less!) was definitely a highlight.

I’m trying to convince myself not to spend $200 on a $5 plastic wrap up board signed by all these players.


Been years since I played.

If you can afford it. The signatures are a piece of history, you are buying the signatures, not the plastic or board.

With the rise of AI, Chess would appear to be a dying art form.


I’m not deep into the abstract strategy AI field, but I’ve done some work in that field. I don’t see why it has to be the case that better-than-human AI makes human competition in a given field worthless. It’s still interesting to probe the limits of human capability. I’m happy to see that chess is still lively, and I’m similarly happy that new computer victories in go have broadened the horizons of human play rather than shutting it down.


That’s great.

Just that from my anecdotal experience, chess seems to be in decline among the youths here. Not that it was great before.


Chess has been around for such a long time, and has been through many waves of popularity. I don’t doubt that in some point in the future, it will rise again. Regardless of AI, the battle between humans remains compelling, and will for centuries I’m sure. You just need that perfect storm of talent and personality. The history of chess is pretty compelling as it relates to colorful characters, that invented new and interesting ways to win.


But I could buy a copy of Nemo’s War for that price!

Chess AI these days is seen as nothing more than a useful (and powerful) tool to assist with learning and analysing chess. Nobody cares about trying to beat it. In fact at the higher levels that these players are at, AI games are kind of looked down on as producing a certain type of ‘machine moves’ that human players would never make.


I agree 100% with the views expressed here and elsewhere.

My comment about dying art is that the youths perceive it as a dead-end pursuit. And an art form dies when the old masters pass on without new generation to replace them.

Note: The perception I am describing here is not limited to those pursuing the art. But the general populance as well. When I was growing up, chess players had an aura of “intellect”. But now, it’s almost universally regarded as “meh”.


I remember when PBS covered the Fischer/Spasky match like it was the World Series. I doubt that would happen today.


I have the impression that the popularity of an activity is heavily connected to the popularity of its masters. Soccer is extremely popular in a lot of countries and a lot of people play it. Maybe it’s because you can understand a soccer game even if you can’t play like the guys in your favourite team whereas there is a huge gap between world class chess and the stuff you do when you just play it as a hobby. High ranking games are often drawn, and often drawn early and the reasons for normal players are very often rather mysterious. Also you have more and more the impression that one player doesn’t outplay the other one but outprepares him or her. That’s of course not the only reason why chess lost a lot of its popularity but it’s got this extremely boring image without magicians like Mikhail Tal or excentrics like Tony Miles or Bobby Fisher or bohemians like Capablanca (now I sound old) who played interesting games you could connect to.
Another reason: There are not a lot of people who can teach chess in an interesting way (at least in Germany). I love the DVDs from Andrew Martin because he’s such a good teacher but a lot of players write books or publish DVDs that are more scientific journals.


It will happen again, when the situation is right. Those matches were a culmination of a lot of things. The cold war combined with the personalities involved did actually make it pretty engaging. As I said upthread, Chess is inherently not a great spectator sport, unless you are really into it. Those matches transcended the game, because there was so much social impact and implications to those games. People weren’t interested in those matches because of chess. If for example, we could somehow end up with a chess final between USA and say…North Korea, and both the personalities involved had some charisma, it would be huge.

Chess is boring right now, unless you are really into the game, that’s always going to be a small percentage of the population. It’s when the game represents bigger themes that it really resonates, combined with some eccentric personality.


Good point.


Just want to point out that there are more people playing chess day to day than probably in its entire history - Sites like and are usually between 6000 and 20,000 concurrent players, and then you add on some lower count servers like the Internet Chess Club (1000-3000), playchess(not sure), peshka’s russian server, and various other random chess sites, and you’ve got quite a few people playing live games of chess at any given time.

The latest thing I’ve been curious about is Kasparov’s “master class”. . I am hoping it’s not geared towards low rated players though, seems like Kasparov would be wasted there.


What’s the basis for this assertion? There are still tons of young players, and young grandmasters. It’s true that Karjakin’s record is still unchallenged, but he broke the previous record by so much that’s not really surprising. It took 33 years for Judit Polgar to come along and break Fischer’s record, and that set off a torrent of new youngest-ever GMs that culminated in a 12 year-old doing it. In the 15 years since, about 20 13/14 year-olds have done it also, including a new record for youngest-ever to reach 2700 rating. That certainly seems like a fairly robust number of youths still view chess as worthy of serious pursuit, even if you grant that becoming a grandmaster is easier now than it was in Polgar or Fischer’s day (because rating inflation has continued, but GM is a fixed threshold). The top 20 players in the world are all under 50, and 12 of them are under 30.

There are lots of things that could be done to make a version of chess that appeals to a broader audience, but there’s not that much desire to actually do so. People who are passionate about chess like the intricacy of the tactics, the crazy skill ceiling, and the traditional forms of the game. People experiment around the edges of that for random products, but those rarely hit home, because if you bend the game too much you might as well just invent a new one. The more interesting question to me is how computer chess can help make the game more accessible. It will never be truly accessible on the scale of Candy Crush, but you could certainly create a version where each move earns you points based on the computer’s assessment of how good a move it was, and where the computer itself plays to keep the game interesting*, so that you can keep playing regardless of skill and end up improving as you learn to play well. Similarly, you could use the power of computer analysis to make live commentary more interesting, highlighting key variations that could be played next, providing an instant score for each move, and attempting to give viewers a sense of the complexity and difficulty faced by each player**. Then live announcers could draw on the computer variations, scores, and complexity assessments to provide the storylines and excitement that people want from a spectator sport. When people watch baseball, the commentators’ job is to build excitement and contextualize the plays: “3-2 count, tying run on first will be in motion with the pitch”; “Just outside, ball 2. That brings the count to 2 and 1. That really changes the at-bat here, now he’s got to come after him with the next pitch and that’s where it can get dangerous” and so on. There is a bit of “they should do this” but the drama is built from the game situation, the playoff situation, and the individual and team storylines like rivalries and position battles. These same things apply to football (where the average viewer only vaguely understands the complexity of each play), soccer, basketball, etc. Knowing what the best thing to do is doesn’t make those games less exciting, it makes them more exciting as you watch to see if the players can pull it off live. This could definitely be done with chess, and games like Starcraft and LoL have shown the way. Chess is starting down these lines with things like the pro leagues, but I think it needs much better 'casting and tournament staging to reach that level.

So tl;dr is: chess should embrace computer analysis, not just as a tool to make humans better, but as a way to assess and present human achievements.

*what I mean by interesting is having the computer play you and try to choose moves so that the best possible response stays within a couple points of zero without forcing a draw (that is, within a couple points, but not if that means every response leaves the game at 0). Perhaps it occasionally forces a takeback, using up a “life” when your move would hang a queen or whatever, to make sure it doesn’t completely ignore major blunders or create really absurd positions where a piece has been hanging for 10 turns.

**complexity and difficulty in this sense would mean how significant the best move is (that is, the difference in assessed value between the best, second best, and third best moves), how hard to find it is (that is, how many moves appear similarly good if you only look ahead 5, 10, or 15 moves), and also perhaps other measures like how volatile the line is (that is, how precisely do you have to understand what to do to achieve the assessment - are there many paths where neither player is making a big mistake, or just one viable path?) and how dangerous it is for the opponent (this is the reverse of the significance measure: how big is the spread of best responses for the opponent?).


I can’t speak for the youths, but this middle-aged man is more interested in chess than ever, thanks to YouTube. I’ve discovered that after a long day at work, there’s nothing more entertaining and relaxing than sitting down to watch a couple of chess videos.

Sometimes it’s coverage of major tournaments, usually by Jan Gustafsson on He’s an excellent analyst with a dry wit. More often it’s John Bartholomew, a chess instructor from Minnesota who is incredibly clear and lucid.

All of this chess-watching hasn’t really translated into chess-playing. No one in my family plays, and I’m not brave enough to get my butt kicked online. But that’s OK – like any other sport, there’s a lot of fun to be had in watching the best go at it.