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The State of Chess : An Opinion

with 2 comments


The equation seems clear:

super-pragmatism + absolute dependence on opening theory + panic to losing =  boring Chess + too many draws.

In today´s Chess, creativity is not rewarded if you lose the game, and what is even worse, it is punished if you lose several ELO points in the same process. This train of thought is the current trend nowadays. Chess has become a super-professional activity, then,  at top level, it is more a “job” than anything else.

Several years ago, Russian GM V. Salov advocated “Fischer-Ramdom” Chess as the only possible antidote. Today, with the World Championship match Anand-Gelfand being played, some voices have raised claiming the same.

Today’s top GMs rely exclusively on computer opening analysis, the longest the better. Usually GMs like sailing close to the wind, avoiding any sort of adventure. And now the use of strong databses and programs, the importance of every point, the panic to being defeated are causing the death (by persistent boredom) of Chess. In some lines , the modern “tabias” reach the 30th move. Creativity is left for other time and other people because by playing that way they know they are always playing with a draw in the pocket. The introduction of faster time controls and other ideas have caused more mistakes but no creativity at all. Some people only like the stupid phase of two players smashing frantically the clock while pieces come, go, fly and fall in an utter mess. They say “this is a real spectacle, a show”. I wonder what use is to associate Chess and those “shows”… (Henry de Montherland wrote that “Human stupidity consists in having lots of ideas, but stupid ones”).  If the only fun of Chess is to see such events then the matter is worse than I believed…

So we will continue -if we have enough patience…-  playing through games plagued with mistakes or absolutely boring games where  a 60 or a 70% of the moves are book (incidentaly when this post is being written, the fifth game of the match Anand-Gelfand has ended in a draw in 27 moves with 17 of them being book moves…  Even on move 16th Black was desperately trying to enter into a drawn position as soon as possible…  Tedious Chess at its best. – We must remember the winner will get 1.53 million dollars and the loser 1.02 …)  and tournament tables will keep showing a landscape full of   “1/2”  signs -or perhaps they will more look like  “0.5” ones.  A matter of taste while Chess continues withering and withering. Paraphrasing “Waiting for Godot”., “nobody  wins, nobody loses, what an immense boredom…”

Of course one may argue that some draws may be fierce battles too. I agree, but not with the present state of Chess.

Some players may retort that I am speaking of what is happening at the supreme levels of Chess. Maybe, but please consider that these “supreme” levels of Chess are populated by the strongest GMs in the world.

In the past, even non-chessplayers had heard the name of players like Capablanca, Botvinnik, Fischer, Karpov, Kasparov, and so on. Today  many players cannot even remember the name of the Champion of the World, and the thing was even worse during the split FIDE / PCA  (Did you remember GMs. A. Khalifman, R. Ponomariov and R. Kasimdzhanov???. Strong GMs, no doubt, now average strong GMs: Well, the three were FIDE World Champions :Khalifman between 1999-2000 -now deep down the ELO list; Ponomariov in 2002-2004 -now 21st in the ELO list and Kasimdzhanov in 2004-2005 now in the 61st ELO list position).  Now, tell me:  how many games by Botvinnik, Spassky,Petrosian, Karpov, Kasparov , Fischer, Capablanca ,Alekhine, Lasker, Steinitz,Morphy, have you studied throughout your chess life? .- AND HOW MANY GAMES BY THE ABOVE THREE HAVE YOU REALLY STUDIED???.  How many books with their lives and games have been published and have you bought???.

Well, my final words are an obituary devoted to my beloved correspondence Chess, now sadly deceased… Today CC games are not between man/woman  vs.  man/woman . Instead today’s battles are between man/woman + an engine  vs.  man/woman + another engine… It passed away surrounded by enemies (a sad finish): Fritz, Hiarcs, Rybka, etc. and their correspondent ” Deep assistants”. Like Julius Caessar , CC was stabbed to death by a gang of automaticians that had been besieging it for several years.

Now, if you wonder why I am always speaking of past times, perhaps here you have an explanation. And if you ask me why I keep on playing CC the answer is that because I love Chess and Chess is my life. And if  you feel a bit in distress, let me tell you that Chess will continue amazing us because no matter if chessplayers have access to millions of games in databases: at the end of the day they will have to meet one another at a chessboard. Perhaps we only need a new Fischer…  and , in any case, I suppose things will readjust themselves one way or another .

Enjoy the following clockwork strategical masterpieces:

W.: Tartakower (1)

B.: L. Schmid (0)

Southsea, 1950

1.c4(of course!),… e5  2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Nf3 Nc6  4. e4 (Tartakower, an icon of the Hypermodern School ,chooses the Nimzowitsch variation. So far everything is according to plan we could say…)  4…, Bb4  5. d3 d6  6. Be2 h6  7. h3 Qe7  8. 0-0  0-0  9. Be3 Bc3:  10. bc3 Nd7  11. g4 Nc5  12. Qd2 g5  13. Kg2  f6  14. Rh1 Kg7  15. Rh2 Bd7  16. Rah1 Rh8  17. Ne1 Ne6  18.h4 Rag8  19. hg5  hg5  20. f3 Qd8  21. d4 Ne7  22. Rh8: Rh8:  23. Rh8: Kh8:  24. c5 ed4  25. cd4  d5  26. Nd3 Bc6  27. e5 Ng6  28. ef6 Qf6:  29. Kf2 Nef4  30. Ne5  Ne5:?! (Tartakower suggests 30…, Be8/ trying to hold the position)  31. de5 Qh6  32. Bf4: gf4  33. Qd4 Kg8  34. Kg2! Kf7  35. Bd3 Ke7  36. Bf5  Be8  37. e6!  (Better than 37. Qd5 straightaway due to 30 …., Qa6 -Tartakower- )  37. …, Bg6  38. Qd5: and Black resigned.

W.: Flohr (1)

B.: Landau (0)

Kemeri 1937

1. c4 Nf6  2. Nc3 e5  3. Nf3  Nc6  4. e3 d5  5. cd5 Nd5: 6. Qc2 Be7  7. a3 Nc3: 8. bc3 0-0  9. d4 Bd6 10. Be2 Qe7 11. 0-0  Bg4  12. h3 Bd7  13. c4 b6  14. Bb2 Rae8  15. c5 bc5  16. de5 Ne5: 17. Ne5: Be5: 18. Be5: Qe5: 19. Rfc1 Qg5  20. Qc5: Re5  21. Qa7!  Bh3:  22. Bf1 Qg6  23. Rc5 Rc5:  24. Qc5: Rc8  25. a4  h5  26. a5 h4  27. Qd5  Bf5  28. a6 Be4  29. Qd7  Bf5  30. Qe7 h3  31. a7 Be4  32. Qd7 Ra8  33. Qh3! c5  34. Qd7 Qc6  35. Qc6:  Bc6:  36. Ra5 Be4  37. f3. Bb7  38. Rc5: Ra7:  39. Rc7  f6  40. Kh2  Kh8  41. Bb5  and Black resigned  .

W.: J.H.Blackburne (1)

B.: W.John (0)

Ostende 1906

(Unstoppable infantry)

1. e4  e5  2. Nc3  Nc6  3. Nf3  Nf6  4. Be2  Bb4  5. Nd5  Bd6  6. Nf6:  Qf6:  7. 0-0  h6  8.c3 Be7  9. d4  d6  10. d5  Nb8  11. Ne1  g5  12. Nc2  Nd7  13. Ne3  Nf8  14. Qa4 Kd8  15. Bg4 Ng6  16. Bc8: Kc8: 17. Nf5 h5  18. Be3 Nf4  19. c4 Kb8  20. Qd7 Ng6  21. b4 Rd8  22. Qa4 Nh4  23. c5 Nf5: 24. c6! bc6 25. dc6 a6  26. b5 a5 27. b6 Nd4  28. Bd4: ed4  29. Rab1  d5 30. e5 Qe6  31. Qb5 Qe5:  32. Rfe1 Qe1:  33. Re1: B4  34. Qd5:  Black resigned.



Written by QChess

May 23, 2012 at 7:03 am

Posted in CHESS, Personal opinion

Tagged with ,

2 Responses

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  1. Quite interesting and informative post.

    Infinity Chess King

    May 23, 2012 at 1:14 pm

  2. Thank you so much. If we think about Chess you will find many commonplaces repeated ad absurdum. Ths is why in a next post I will deal with some of those “topics”.


    May 24, 2012 at 7:20 am

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