On Cheating....

Was browsing on chess.com and came across a high ranking Russian player who stated that he did not play random people any more because many of those around 2000-2200 level cheated using engines. I suppose this would entirely invalidate any online ranking system. How could you possibly know who cheated and who did not? There was the one fellow who was caught in a FIDE match evaluating his board position in the men's room on his smartphone hidden there. He was suspended for three years and lost his GM ranking for fraud. But given the sophistication of computer apps, how could you guarantee that cheating does not take place even in 3 minute games? A program could automatically read the data on last move played and provide an instant best move!

We might conclude that many online rankings could be suspect. I dislike credentials to start with, let alone those that may be phoney. If you play online you have to assume you are playing a computer, at least at the higher levels. This is why you want to train to beat chess.com level 10. Actually, I am getting used to predicting Stockfish moves now. "Hey! That looks like a computer move!" So without trust, there is really no basis for a real game. Remember Fischer's chair controversy?

What about performance enhancing drugs? Some people need psych drugs to focus at all, so some improve an impaired concentration. Candy would decrease concentration. Nakamara listens to fast music but this can only distract him. He is so hyper that he is the best at bullet chess, 1 minute games. Eating before a game will make you sleepy. You do want to improve, not subtract from concentration. But I do see that deeper concentration and speed of play may be slightly at odds with each other.

On taking back moves...

When I first started playing chess, my sister, who is five years older and taught me, insisted on being able to take back moves. Eventually this did not help her. I let her take back a lot of moves just to get her to play. Used to play her boyfriends from Berkeley too, until they lost too much. The same can be said about taking back moves against the computer. That will not help you if you do not know what you are doing. Nor does the computer really care. Common childhood ethics require taking back a blunder, or else people will not play you. This is probably why all chess programs allow you to take back moves. Would you really play one that didn't?

How can you be sure my games are real?

Why not? I tell you that I do take back blunders and often try a move to see how it affects the score--looking ahead. But you can see moves ahead in the detailed evaluation anyway, if you are looking at it. But this is not a reliable indicator for move selection. Stockfish likes to give up your pawns and so recommends it frequently. I you want to win, try to keep your pawns and keep them together, 2 and 3, for the end game. The programs also provides hints. But if you take the Stockfish hints, all that will happen is that you will be watching it play itself to a draw: not so much fun! In order to win, you have to find your own winning move! You can verify this for yourself. The winning move is often not the best move that the computer picks. Put my games in analysis and you will see that I had inaccuracies and even maybe a blunder, but I still won!

To save time, I often let the computer playout part of the ending. If it is a won game, what difference does it make who plays it to the conclusion, you or the computer? You can tell if you have a won game if your evaluation score keeps going up, like, 3, 4, 5, 6. Actually, you have to intervene here because the computer tends to find a draw whenever it plays itself. Less than a two point advantage can go to zero through simplification. Or your won game may end in a draw by repetition. The trick to winning is to avoid simplifying too much and providing some protection for your king. In one game here I had to sacrifice my queen for a rook to avoid the draw by repetition--was then able to push pawns and make two more queens.

I found by trial and error that it is easier to win with d4 than e4. The London works well but chess.com is getting harder to beat with it--it must be learning! Have since read that Alpha Zero also plays d4 instead of e4. It also likes the London. d4 his was also my favorite move as a child, along with a3 at some point. Many games are just draws and going back to tweak them will not turn them into a win. To win, you have to play the right opening and Stockfish has to use the wrong strategy, especially the poisoned pawn. BTW, if I can beat Stockfish 17 times in a few weeks, it cannot be so strong. AlphaZero also almost always beats it. I see no reason why any of you GMs cannot beat it too! Don't believe however that there is any sure fire winning system or openning. Now, if everyone were able to beat Stockfish regularly , then maybe we would not have to worry so much about online cheating. Would like to get an AlphaZero App.

What about Play Magnus App? The highest I tried was 12 years old, 2250, and won on the third try with black. However, it really hurt my eyes which could not focus for over an hour. The white on black is very bad for my eyes. I refuse to play on phones. Thinking about making an android laptop now.

What about playing real people? I try that from time to time but am always disappointed. Usually mismatched or obnoxious. Last time this one fellow kept badgering me in the chat window, which I ignored for the most part. Then my finger slipped off the mouse pad and I left my queen enprise. He said he wanted to play me again to help him get his rating up! No shame. Funny that several weeks later later chess.com said they were giving me 50 points back because he had violated the rules. Probably wondering why I had stopped playing humans. Said they reviewed that game. Hmm. Should not have had chat turned on by default. Hard enough to deal with the game let alone other people's issues.

Why should we play mere mortals when we can play a chess god, chess.com level 10? Most people can never play as well.

If you win because your opponent blunders, how can this possibly improve your game? Pointless. You can only improve by playing someone who is better than you, who does not make mistakes. Of course, more people would play the computer if they could only win. They are only playing people because they think they can win more and boost their rating. A foolish motivation. Never be motivated by ratings.

I don't have a great rating online because I have only played a few games against real people. Playing for ratings is pointless. You go up because someone else made a mistake? Think about how absurd this sounds. Everyone feels bad when they lose.

When I do play real friends or children, I often let them win. Otherwise, it would be no fun for them. People should not play chess to increase their egos. When I went to college, I quit chess, why? Because everyone was acting like a mini-bobby fischer. I did not want to turn into one of them.

If nobody cared about social ratings, then nobody would have a motivation to cheat. This would be better for the game, for the chess community. How would we rank people then? Well, we could let them play the computer at a particular level and see how often they win in say four hours. That would be more objective. I would not count the losses, only the wins. It is super easy to make mistakes.

The draw by repetition rule, how did that come about? I bet it was to save the face of some prince who always lost. Chinese do it better. In Chinese chess, you simply are not allowed to keep attacking the same piece more than two times in a row. You simply have to make a different move. A much more rational rule. Less draws. Why should your playing style be constrained to avoiding a draw? Nonsense! Also, there is no stalemate in Chinese Chess, except for insufficient material. If you cannot move and it is your turn, you lose! Probably why you see Chinese players in International chess also going for the win and playing more aggressively. Chess is war. Chinese chess is also way more fun to play. You can learn it here: Springfrog Chinese Chess Learning to play Chinese chess can also improve your International chess. Even learning go can improve your chess! I knew a Chinese grad student once, a PH.D. math student who was expert at both. Ding Liren is also a wizard. He could become world champion someday.

Will computers make playing chess obsolete? No. I think the computer improves everyone's game and today, there are many more GMs because of the computer and they play much better than before computers. I believe that people can learn to beat any computer program. Everyone in the world should have the right to access the strongest chess engine. How else can humanity advance?

I think that once a new engine comes on the scene, it will beat everyone for a while until it is figured out. It will create new openings and tactics which people can learn. People will learn new end game strategies, well, maybe a little bit. People will learn which pieces will be best to keep for a particular pawn configuration. Sometimes a knight is more useful than a bishop. Usually, on a fairley open board with 2 bishops, you should at least draw. Engines are best at tactics, but this may not put you in the best situation for an end game. This is why I can still beat chess.com level 10. Strategy is about designing the end game. You can also learn how to do this! I think the computer introduces a new advantage but must necessarily show people how to defeat it. So there will be super GMs who can defeat even Alpha Zero.

The only caveat is that given the rules, the good players will only draw. We an only predict that a human will not lose to a computer. She may not be able to win against it. The last world championship really ended in a draw. The overtime was in blitz as a tie-breaker. Mixing the two formats is not really legit because it gave Magnus Carlsen an incentive not to take risks in the classical portion, because he knew he could easily win the blitz, which he did. So people cried foul. As chess becomes more understood, there should be a rule change to make draws harder. This will also be good for the game long term, although it will give an advantage to the computer. Chinese chess programs are harder to win at than International chess programs partly because the rules make it harder to draw. Tactics become predominant.

Why should I play chess? Chess develops your concentration and your brain, particularly for children. Today we have an opposite tendency in the world, to distraction, and more an more children seem to be having difficulty concentrating. When I teach children chess, it is with a mind towards improving concentration. They like using a clock and this helps them focus, to keep track of whose turn it is, but I do not count the time.

Should I push my child to become the next Bobby Fischer? Not in my opinion. Life as a professional chess player has a few opportunity costs. Magnus Carlsen is a chess machine, but he cannot stop thinking about chess. There is always a game or two going on in the back of his mind. I think this affects his personality a bit, his interactions with people. To be really top today, be prepared to make sacrifices to what most people would consider normal. To do this for the ego of the parent is not really a nice outcome. So no pushing kids, only support. Bobby Fischer also had issues. Being great at chess did not solve his eccentricity.