Posted on

April’s fool before Christmas

April’s fool before Christmas

Chess World has more tragedies then happy endings. World Champions like Alexander Alekhine and Robert James Fischer died relatively young and in strange circumstances.  It might be deceptive however, because we tend to pay attention to not so ordinary stories and dismiss the regular happy endings. Most likely the life of a chess player does not really differ from the life of regular Joe.

Chess players like to joke and most of their humor is about chess players and about chess. I think the best award goes to this story.

It was April’s fool joke and I was one of the victims. It took some time for me to realize that the story is fake. The point was that the actual move 3.Be2 was not so bad after all. According to a computer evaluation White has decent chances to keep the balance. This is why I was fooled for a moment.

Recently there was an interview with Vladimir Kramnik.

He quit chess for good some time ago and there were rumors that he has several chess related projects in mind. I hope this was not one of them. First, like with the April’s fool story I was convinced that this article has the same flavor. Then reading it more carefully and checking the dates I found out that somehow Kramnik is serious about the idea to abandon castle in chess. The games played out with a computer with no castling rule is interesting, but it is always the case, computers nowadays in chess are so strong that they can play out remarkable game with any rules.

There was always some kind of intention to change the rules of chess. First, there was David Bronstein, who after losing his World Championship match against the mighty Botvinnik in 1951 started to talk against the winning and losing in chess. He wanted to abandon the sport principle in chess.

Later and more successful attempt was started by Bobby Fischer who’s brain child was  Fischer random.

Recently there was some kind of unofficial World Championship in Fischer random and Wesley So beat Mangus Carlsen in the final.

The idea of David Bronstein’s never worked, people want more blood and they are not interested so much of other implementations of chess like art etc. Fischer’s idea was at that time mainly focused on eliminating the theoretical know how. He was accusing soviets of working together against him. Kramnik’s idea is to make the game more dynamic or more difficult so the spectators can see more decisive games.

The ideas of eliminating the draw outcome in chess has been very popular. However according to the game theory the draw is a normal outcome in zero sum games. The chess rules were developed for centuries and it seems that they have the ideal set up today. In Fischer random the strategy is very simple, one should build up the so called normal chess position as quickly as possible. Meaning that shuffling the starting position makes no sense. Today we do not have a player who is taught Fischer random from the very beginning. I do not think it is also possible, the child is taken aback of this kind of shuffled positions and most likely cannot develop his or her chess skills using only Fischer random. Like bughouse chess variant the Fischer random is sometimes refreshing option to regular chess, but it is not the future of chess.

Why we need to castle in chess? Kramnik gave some answers in his interview. It is interesting question and might be a good subject to investigate. In short I would explain it in the following way. The castle is home for the king. In some languages it has different meanings. The idea most likely is the same, we need to castle the king away. If there is not possible to castle it creates more chaotic situation. In this sense I agree with Kramnik, it really makes the game more difficult. It also abandons all chess theory developed for decades and checked in recent years with computers. Why to create chaos if we have a good logical system already and which functions perfectly. The draw odds we may want to make more difficult, but without fixing the game itself.

In my practice I have not one, but few games where the castling did not take place. The next one is my favorite.

Merry Christmas!