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nothing ventured

to follow up on my last post about the chess, one thing that really stands out for me is how many times both players, in the analysis of computer-assisted observers, have failed to make midgame or lategame moves that would have set them up for a near certain victory. i would not be surprised if it is the case that players who've reached this level are fairly risk-averse overall and all too willing to accept a draw rather than lose (and perhaps look foolish) and although i don't know this to be true it is quite possible those moves were unorthodox and risky. still, it says a lot to me that our greatest human players can fail to glimpse all of the possibilities once they've been substantially narrowed, even as they clearly see so many of them; that even they are quite fallible. i wonder how much of the admixture each contributes to these failings, between risk-averse play, failing of ability, and over-reliance on known lines of play causing unorthodox unprepared-for lines of play to be dismissed out of hand (out of mind...). have our best players perhaps become more 'robotic' than actual (with figurative license) robots?

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( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
jones_casey
Nov. 20th, 2018 12:18 am (UTC)
"i could have played much more ambitiously,” carlsen laments. the champion sounds a bit downtrodden and rueful after failing to capitalize on playing with the white pieces in back-to-back games. - the guardian


“after the last game it kind of felt like i got away with murder,” carlsen says at the post-game (7) press conference. “in that sense it’s easier to be calm about a draw today. I’m not loving it, but i’m not in any sort of panic mode either. could have been worse. the match is still equal and with black, it’s been going ok. i’m not at all thrilled about my play today.”
jones_casey
Nov. 20th, 2018 12:21 am (UTC)
carlsen on carlsen
"i had one chance to play actively but i didn’t entirely believe in it. ... (15. Nce4) instead of (15. O-O). castling is essentially just an admission that the position is equal.”

he adds: “i was also looking at (15. f4) which is interesting but probably nonsensical.”
jones_casey
Nov. 20th, 2018 12:24 am (UTC)
“it was always a draw,” caruana says. “and overall a solid draw without too many problems is always a good result.”
jones_casey
Nov. 20th, 2018 12:35 am (UTC)
last week, the world no 1 had offered a glib response to a reporter who asked if he had a favorite player from history: “probably myself like three or four years ago”.

the punch line brought the house down, yet carlsen’s suggestion that he is diminished player relative to the dizzying heights of his mid-decade peak informed it with a certain pathos and the champion revisited the theme in more sober tones amid sunday’s aftermath.

“i feel like i could possibly have gotten something today but i don’t really know how, i just knew that there were many possibilities,” he said. “i didn’t know what to go for. i don’t feel like i missed something huge. maybe on another day in another year, i could have found some way.”

caruana, the world no 2, didn’t take the bait when asked whether carlsen’s alleged loss of edge and inability to win from positions he might have converted years ago influenced or altered his approach to the most important match of his life.

“i mean, what can i say?” the 26-year-old challenger said. “if i get a chance then i’ll try to take it but I’m not thinking about (carlsen’s form) like that exactly. i had some kind of chance in the previous game and i did my best to make the most of it, but i’m also not going to go crazy or anything.”

he added: “after the first game, the games have been pretty tight. we haven’t really given many chances to one another, so it’s kind of natural that a lot of the games will end peacefully. things could have happened in (game 6) and the first game. there could have been decisive results, but none so far.”
nightspore
Nov. 21st, 2018 10:18 pm (UTC)
Fascinating
nightspore
Nov. 21st, 2018 10:20 pm (UTC)
Endgames are much more about calculations than openings or middle games. A computer can almost always outthink a human in an end game. The maxims of strategy (as internalized by grandmasters) are far thinner in the end game than before. So it's much more a question of calculation, and calculating all the possibilities down 20 moves on a nearly empty board where pieces can move almost anywhere is really daunting unless you're a calculating machine.
jones_casey
Nov. 26th, 2018 03:31 am (UTC)
as i said i'm far too unskilled to judge and so i take your point without hesitation. yet i'm pretty surprised that this is true. i would have thought most endgames would offer fairly obvious (to the experienced) best moves simply due to the dearth of pieces and positions, especially since expert players can very quickly concur on a draw without playing it out to try to generate the slightest chance at an advantage. on another note, i don't know the fuzzy bright line between when endgame starts and midgame ends, but it seemed to me that the computers still have the advantage as some point in the midgame.
nightspore
Nov. 26th, 2018 04:30 am (UTC)
There's no intuitive way to see subtle differences in an endgame. For example computers showed -- to everyone's surprise -- that two bishops against a king could force a mate after about 90 moves. Until then two bishops was regarded as a certain draw between grandmasters. None of the bishop moves were intuitive. They went all over the board in apparent indifference to the other king. But the vice slowly closed. Go seems to be like that too now, when the best programs play it. Humans have no idea what the programs are doing but the programs win. Whereas in middle games you can see what computers are trying to do -- break out, attack, defend. The resistance of so many opposing pieces means that the computer's pieces don't have free run of the board as in endgames. The near term goals are a lot more important in middle than in end games. Humans can intuit over longer stretches in middle games than in endgames.

Edited at 2018-11-26 04:32 am (UTC)
jones_casey
Nov. 26th, 2018 08:16 am (UTC)
i appreciate your insights. i seem to vaguely recall reading about that 2 bishops thing -- i did at one point read a book about endgames when i was trying to see if polishing my gane would reveal any underlying value but i didn’t retain much and it was probably 10-14 years ago.
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