November 12, 2013

The alarming trend of knowledge overshadowing skill

It seems to me that too many games get liquidated too easily nowadays due to the influence of engines in preparation. It is true that computer and technology is playing a huge role in the game of Chess, to such extent that we have started relying entirely on the machines. Regarding this, Srinath Narayanan shares his thoughts and presents us his idea.

The alarming trend of knowledge overshadowing skill
By Srinath Narayanan

So in order to counter this practice of having concrete knowledge of 20-25 moves which are close to the best(and even a 2200 player can achieve this if he/she spends enough time with the required resources).

What I propose is

The first few moves of the opening should be decided at random instead of the players choosing them.  So this way, they won't have looked at it the previous night or something,
and it's really hard to remember computer generated preparation if you haven't looked at it recently. 

The obvious pros

1.It’s better than Chess960 because everything we’ve studied so far will still be relevant.  It’s not a new variant.

2.It sharply reduces the chances of someone remembering concrete preparation for up to 20-25 moves, because it’s humanely impossible to have that kind of memory over all chess lines.  What will operate instead is fragments of memory, and general skills developed over the years.

3.It’ll force players to be versatile

4.I suspect there will be an increase in the winning chances of a higher skilled player

5.The restoration of prominence of skill over knowledge

Perhaps this idea might be a little drastic at the current moment, but I thought it might be worth floating it around.  The main point I want to emphasise is on eliminating the memorisation of large clusters of computer generated variations. 

The idea proposed does not completely eradicate the problems, it just improves the probability.

For example,

Let’s take the recent Dominguez-Caruana from the Paris Grand Prix.  While white can still force a draw in under 20 moves with my proposition, the chances would be reduced because it’s not under the player’s discretion anymore.

We can make so many more references, but I want to try & keep this short, and once again emphasise my point.  It is already well known the routine of most professionals during a tournament largely consists of going over complex computer generated variations in their lines and trying to remember them during the game the next day or one the following days.  My point is that chess shouldn’t be so much memory based, it should be more skill based.  A player rated around 1800 should not be able to make 20 best moves as well as the World No:1 so easily. 

At this present moment, we are trying to market chess as a sport, but what sporting element is required to exhibit 20-25 moves of memory and then solve fairly simple problems to make a draw?

It can be argued about not all games turn out this way, but we’ve already seen the first two games of the premiere chess contest fizzing out this way.  This phenomenon is nowhere close to 100% occurrence levels, or percentages at which we should perhaps begin to worry, but if there’s a tangible idea to make chess more combative, more sports like, why not give it a thought?

Based on the initial response to the idea, a part 2 would be published with suggestions on how this can be practically implemented uniformly.