The Benefits of Chess

Chess was developed a very long time ago and the way it has come this far is marvelous. Previously, Chess used to be played in between two human beings and now, it is also played between super computers and many software. One reason why Chess has come this far is because people were very cautious about its importance from an early age. Now, you may not believe this, but there are several qualities a good Chess player’s mind possess that others usually do not. There are some characteristics found in professional chess players that are usually not found with others.

1. Chess Players Have Excellent Memory

You might not agree with me but it is true that most good Chess players have better memories. Memory is an important aspect in measuring IQ and it is also an important tool for the survival of human beings. Good Chess players have great memory as they are compelled to remember various patterns of Chess pieces and must also remember different tactics required in the game. Most Grand Masters have above average IQs and this is another proof, which shows how Chess players tend to have better memory. Chess players will have to memorize a lot of things.

2. Chess Teaches Sacrifice

By sacrifice, I do not mean the people who give up their luxuries to go live in a jungle and become a sage. Instead, I mean sacrifice as in giving up something to gain something much more valuable. Many times in Chess, players have to give up an important piece to get positional advantage on the board. They also must make important trade-offs in between each other’s pieces. So, in other words, Chess teaches you to be smart; it teaches you the importance of giving up and the importance of looking into the future.

3. Chess teaches patience

In most games, chess players must wait for the right opportunity to take advantage. Many Chess players must wait for the right opportunity at the right time to make their move. Moreover, chess players must be willing to practice day and night in order to be a better player. They can never expect to be a good player just by practicing for one or two days. Years of hard work and dedication might be needed. Even many young Grand Masters had to practice for several years before they could be so perfect at Chess.

4. Chess helps with concentration

This point might not be very new for many of you. Concentration is a well-known aspect of Chess. Without concentration, nobody can expect to play chess and excel at it. Moreover, people who find it difficult to concentrate on various tasks must make the habit of plating Chess. Chess will be entertaining at first and as you keep on playing, you will find it much more interesting. As you keep on playing, your concentration skill will improve over time.

5.Chess Players are Logical

Good Chess players are always logical. In Chess, it is very important to think each and every move thoroughly in order to get higher points and eventually win the game. Also, Chess players must analyze his or her opponent’s move too. Analysis is a popular aspect of reasoning and logic. Since, Chess helps the people develop proper analysis skills, it is undoubtedly true that Chess helps people develop good logical skills.

So, Chess has all these benefits and it is an interesting game as well but the reason why many people do not enjoy it much is because they are not willing to do the hard work and be better in Chess. In other words, they are not motivated and they are unwilling.

How to be Good at Chess

Chess is a sport that requires a great deal of concentration, commitment and patience. It is a game, which teaches the importance of smart-choices and sacrifices. People play Chess not just for the sake of exercising their brains but also to make it much more focused, relaxed and concentrated. So, it is important for everybody to learn Chess and learning the game is not enough, one must be willing to work hard to be good at it too. Here, I am going to explain on how anybody can be a good Chess and how he or she can develop the skills required to play the game.

1. Be committed

It is not very difficult to learn the basic rules of chess and it is not difficult to learn a few tricks. However, to be good at the sport, you must be willing to work and put in the effort that is required. You must be willing to spend hours learning how certain moves affect the game and you should also practice online or with your friends. Moreover, you should start reading some books related to the game so that you are able to develop your comprehension skills. Reading will also help to develop concentration, which will come handy in Chess.

2. Practice online

Websites such as Chess.com are the number one place for you to develop your chess skills. The reason why I am emphasizing you to practice Chess online is because when online, you get to meet other chess players that are in the same level, as you and this will help you learn their skills and they will learn your skills too. This way, you will learn new techniques without getting bored or tired. Also, when you play online, the games will neither be too difficult, nor will it be very easy. The games will perfectly match your level of skill.

4. Analyze every game

It will be very difficult for anybody to analyze their game right when they start playing. However, once you start becoming familiar with the pieces and start feeling a little confident, you should starting analyzing your games with the help of a computer software or website. The place I visit frequently is Chess.com but you can buy a Chess engine or can download a Chess engine and a user interface to help you analyze your games. Having a Chess engine is another important aspect of playing chess.

5. Watch how the professionals play

Go over to YouTube and see how professionals play chess or watch historical chess matches. This will give you an idea on what the various aspects of Chess are and how professionals position their pieces to win games or get an advantage. Also, these videos will teach you important things regarding the opening, mid-game and end game strategies. Also, you should also make the habit of reading all the available articles related to Chess from the Internet. These articles will really come in handy when you want to develop your chess strategy.

6. Learn to sacrifice

Chess itself is a sport that teaches you the importance of sacrifice to gain something valuable. As you continue playing the sport, you will realize the importance of developing your pieces in the right positions and how sacrificing some other pieces might come in handy. So, from the very beginning, try to trade pieces, or learn the value of different pieces of Chess.

Now, I will not tell you that following all of these steps will make you a brilliant player overnight but what I will tell you is that these steps will definitely improve your Chess game and strategies overtime.

Houdini the Chess Engine

When IBM super computer Deep Blue won a 6-game chess competition against reigning world champion Gary Kasperov in 1997, many speculators of the sport had started showing concerns regarding the increasing capabilities of Artificial Intelligence and the way in which it could affect the world of Chess. Many of them feared that the Grand Masters of Chess would soon be computers rather than humans while some others were optimistic and believed Deep Blue’s win to be a start of a new era. Years have passed since the historic event of New York City and today, at 2016; common computer programs such as Houdini seems to have ratings as high as 3277. However, Houdini is no ordinary chess engine and its features, development and creation has been done very creatively.

Developed by Robert Houdart, Houdini first released in the May of 2010 and was slowly raised through the ranks to become one of the best Chess software ever. Houdini is known to be very familiar with Sicilian Defense and is known for playing both defensively and offensively. So far, Houdini has 5 versions available and the latest, known as Houdini 5, seems more focused in playing aggressively yet very cautiously. Houdini 5 was released on November ninth of 2016.

One of the best features of Houdini is that it has frequent updates and the engine is constantly revised for any flaws or defects. The engines has had numerous revisions and the latest major revision, which ultimately led to the release of Houdini 5, is said to be 200 Elo stronger than its previous versions.

Houdini has played several chess matches against other Chess engines and among them; I take these three to be the most memorable ones:

  1. Houdini VS. Rybka

This match that took place on January 28 2011 was very competitive in nature and very interesting to watch at the same time. The match took place in the TCEC season 1 and was very much anticipated by millions of Chess enthusiast from all around the world. In the game, Houdini, playing black, starts with c5 and continues to develop his knight to f6 (which is non other than the Nimzowitsch variation). Rybka on the other end of the board started with e5 and for its second move, tried c3. From the very beginning, the game promised to become a very competitive one and it was clearly a very long and competitive game, which was really fun and interesting to watch.

  1. Houdini VS. Komodo

This is another brilliant match played by Houdini that took place in the third stage of the eight season of TCEC. Houdini 4 played white in this match and Komodo played black. Houdini started the game off with the Benko’s opening. Similarly, his second move was Bg2 and the game carried on from there. The game was a tense match with both parties making some aggressive sacrifices but Houdini eventually won the game.

  1. Houdini 2.0 VS. Houdini 3.0

This game was the classic example of what happens when you make two brilliant minds fight each other in a game of chess. Both parties started the game with a Sicilian Defense and went on to have a fierce match where both of them became very aggressive with each other. The match took place on September 25th of 2012 and the event and the place of the match is still not known. However, it still was a match to remember.

Houdini is a classic example of a great chess engine that is ever developing and becoming more powerful. Every new release of a new version of Houdini is more aggressive and more fun to watch play.

A Game to Remember: Bobby Fischer Vs. Mac Hack

Among the many Chess games in between professional chess players and early computer, one game that always intrigues me is the game in between Bobby Fischer and the early chess computer called Mac Hack. Mac Hack was a very good chess player and Richard D. Greenblatt developed it. However, in all of the games Mac Black has played, it has always been pretty defensive rather than focusing on the offence. In the game versus Bobby Fisher too, Mac Black could rarely be seen attacking. The game was held on 1977 and it is a fine example of how brilliantly and beautifully Bobby Fischer played Chess.

Bobby Fisher played White and opened with a simple King’s Gambit: first e4, followed by f4. Mac Hack took the bait and captured the f4 pawn. Just after two moves, Bobby Fischer seemed to be in control. Fischer did not take much time to start a full-fledged attack. He took his bishop to c4, which was pretty aggressive to start with. However, in an attempt to force Fischer to retreat his Bishop, Mac Hack moves his pawn to d5. However, this move has little effect on Fischer’s attacking strategy. With little hesitation, Fischer takes the d5 pawn with his Bishop.

Here onwards, Mac Hack starts losing control over the game as Fischer plays very aggressively. Without wasting much time, Fischer brings in his Knights to play, castles and develops a strong dominance on the center of the board. In amidst of this, Mac Hack has developed his Bishop to b4 which is very common and not at all thoughtful. Knowing Fischer, he probably ad already anticipated the move.

The way the game was developing, it was pretty clear that Mac Hack had little chance of winning. In all fairness, the most exiting point for Mac Hack during the game should have been when it fell for the King’s Gambit at the beginning of the game. However, that does not mean that Mac Hack played a very rubbish game overall. Mac Hack did have an opportunity for mate in one. During the mid-game, Fisher’s Knight took on the pawn that was moved to g5. Mac’s queen took the knight and a move later; Mac Hack had a Bishop in h3. This triggered a mate in one as Fischer had earlier castled in the king’s side. However, Mac’s enthusiasm did not last for long, as Fischer was quick to notice and defend against Mac Hack’s attack.

Checkmate was not far as after the mate in one attempt, Fischer was quick to take back his offensive form. Mac Hack’s Bishop took on Fischer’s e5 pawn and in retaliation; the d4 pawn took the Bishop. When Mac Hack moved its pawn to c6, the end game had begun.

The end game was pretty easy for Fischer. Fischer’s Bishop took Mac Hack’s f4 pawn. This forced the Black’s queen to retaliate to g7 and with a simple Kf6+; black’s King had nowhere to go but h8. Fisher then proceeded to move his queen to h5. In a desperate attempt, Mac Hack moves Rgd8 and Fischer’s queen capture the black bishop on h3. The game did not go very far from there and after a couple of moves; Fischer got his checkmate and eventually won the game.

Even though Mac Hack did not play a very brilliant game, it was very important machinery in that time. The creator of Mac Hack would eventually go on to build the LISP machine, which would be a great advancement in the field of Artificial Intelligence. So, for everybody interested in Chess and computer programming, this game had a lot of importance.

The three ways to play chess

Before the invention of super computers or chess engines, many philosophers believed that chess was a game where psychology played a great part. They believed that if a player would be able to properly understand and manipulate another player’s psychology and play accordingly, he or she would easily be able to win games and become a champion. However, when super computers were developed and when they started defeating world champions, it became clear that Bobby Fisher was ultimately right: Chess was not a game based on psychology. Instead it was based on playing good moves. However, even though chess engines and super computers are very powerful and are much more intelligent than any human brain, they lack one important feature: they did not rely on instincts and they were not always the best teachers.

Playing with other people

Many players think that the best way to improve their chess strategy is to play with computers or other engines. Well, let me just tell you that this is a very wrong approach and you should never always focus yourself on playing with computers. The first disadvantage of not playing chess frequently with other people is that the game will eventually become very boring. Also, when you play with computers or engines, you do not get much time t analyze the game very well because the computer engines are often very fast with their moves. Similarly, you will not have anybody who will properly interact with you and give feedbacks on how well you played the game. However, this does not mean that playing chess against chess engines and software will not help improve your gameplay. All I am trying to say is that even though you should frequently play chess with computer programs, you should also try playing with other people.

Playing online.

Another way of having fun while playing chess is to play the game online. There are numerous websites and software that provide you the opportunity to find other people from random parts of the world and play chess with them. I find Chess to be a hundred times more fun online and you also get to meet new people and learn plenty of new stuffs. Some websites that help you play free chess are Chess.com, FICGS.com, chessgames.com and so on. Playing chess online is helpful because:

  1. It helps you to learn new openings, end games and strategies. For example, you might find your opening move to be very effective with on kind of player but the same strategy might not work for others. This way you will learn how to respond according to the strengths and weaknesses of your opponents.
  2. Most online chess playing websites are adjusted to your level, so you get to play with a challenger that is neither too easy to defeat nor too difficult. You will be able to play more challenging games online.

Playing with an engine

Playing chess with various chess engines is not a bad idea at all. You will experience the following benefits when you play chess games with a chess engine:

  1. You get challenged more as most engines are better than the best human player of chess, i.e. Magnus Carlsen.
  2. You get to adjust the difficulty in which you would like to play. In most online chess websites or even when you play with other humans, you do not have much opportunity to tune in the difficulty you want to play in.

To conclude, among the three ways in which you can play chess, all of them have some benefits or drawbacks. I suggest that you try all three of them to improve your playing style and be a better chess player.

The importance of development of chess engines

When it comes to chess, chess engines such as Houdini and Fire are much more smarter than any human mind. The latest version of Houdini 5 has a standard rating of 3373 and believe it or not, the most brilliant chess player of the world, Magnus Carlsen, has a rating of just 2882. This simple fact is enough to explain how developed the world of chess engines has become and how this development has created new opportunities for human chess players. Personally, I find playing chess against an engine to be much more difficult, yet interesting at the same time. Playing against an engine can help any individual develop skills that might seem difficult for others. Today, I have listed the advantages of the development of chess engines and have mentioned why they are so important for the overall improvement of a chess player.

The most important benefit of playing against a chess engine is that it will help players explore their creativity in the board. Chess engines are very challenging and in order to win against them, players must be able to concentrate and focus towards building pieces in the most appropriate way possible. Since, it requires a lot of practice to be able to do that, chess players who frequently use a chess engine are very creative when it comes to putting their pieces at proper positions.

Artificial Intelligence in chess engines are known for calculating possible outcomes of various chess moves at a faster rate than any human being. They can analyze many outcomes and they do that by referring to historical chess strategies stored in their memory. Humans, on the other hand, cannot perform such calculations. Many Grand Masters do refer to their experience to make the best possible moves but humans are also equipped with instincts that are pretty difficult for computers to develop. Because of this reason, it is always a good idea to play against a computer, as it will help sharpen your chess instincts.

A chess game in between two chess engines is always informative for a chess player. A chess player can learn new openings, endgame and mid-game strategies. Similarly, chess engines are much more powerful and smart than any other ordinary human and as a result, watching two chess engines play can give people new ideas regarding how they should attack, defend and play important pieces.

The development of chess engines has also been closely linked with the development of artificial intelligence. When Deep Blue defeated Gary Kasperov, people were already very enthusiastic about the possibilities artificial intelligence had in store for them. People had started to speculate on how the future of the world would look like with well-developed artificial intelligence. IBM’s Deep Blue also encouraged many investors to invest their money for the research on the development of Artificial Intelligence. Some scholars even consider the game of chess to be very important when it comes to studying about artificial intelligence.

To conclude, the development of chess engines, super computers and artificial intelligence has done a lot of good for chess players from all around the world. Chess has made players more competitive, well informed and much detail oriented. However, we cannot rule out the possibility that super computers and chess engines might someday rule the game of chess rather than human beings. Even though such possibilities do exist, it would never be able to make the game of chess boring or uninteresting. Instead, super computers dominating the world of chess will make the game much more competetive, challenging and fun to watch. Hence, my prediction for the future of chess will always remain optimistic.

Improvements needed in Chess Engines

Ever since IBM’s super computer Deep Blue defeated then chess’s World Champion Gary Kasperov, the development of chess engines and chess software took place very rapidly and brilliantly. Today, after numerous research, studies and experiments, chess engines have far surpassed the human capability and every year better technologies and engines are built and practiced on. Chess has now become much more interesting than before and this is all thanks to chess engines that play a much better game than any human ever could as many experts agree that technology has come to a point where it has become difficult for the greatest of human chess masters to beat the best chess engine of today. Yet, with so much of potential and power present inside the modern chess engine, it still carries some flaws with it that are almost always noticed by good chess players and developers. Now, I am not saying that these flaws have made chess engines to be a weaker player but these flaws have definitely opened new opportunities for chess engine developers to study upon. Most of the flaws present in modern chess engines are not always visible to an ordinary player but for a Grand Master, they do make a great difference.

One flaw that almost all of the modern chess engines have is that they are too dependent on previous patterns for their game play. Most engines are fed with positional information about lots of historical chess matches and if you watch a game closely, you will find instances where they try and tend to play a chess match that is similar to a historical match. However, this is not always the case and the Artificial Intelligence of today’s chess engines are a bit stronger and show signs of good comprehension of the game. Yet, I believe that it is important for chess developers to be wary about their engines not being too dependent on previous match patterns and it is important to focus on developing systems that focus on making accurate calculations in the game rather than a system that focuses on searching for ancient patterns.

Now, openings in Chess games are not always unique and many chess players are not very optimistic towards unorthodox openings, they sometimes tend to make the game much more interesting and entertaining. I have used a lot of chess engines to date and never have I ever seen a chess engine perform an unorthodox opening. Most chess engines seem very familiar with Sicilian defense as their opening and even though they can use other openings such as the Vienna Game or the King’s Indian Defense, Unorthodox openings are so rare that they are almost difficult to find. Imagine how interesting would chess be if chess engines performed an irregular opening from time to time.

If you are an average observer and a beginner in the field of chess, than you might not see many of the flaws present in chess engines that other good players and grand masters do. Another simple flaw you can find in chess engines is that sometimes, Grand Masters notice when computer engines switch from defensive to offensive positions and vice-versa. Now, this is not something unusual or something that worries anybody. But, the unpredictability of chess disappears when such events do occur. For example, when many chess engines start to lose, it is very easy to recognize when they switch to a more defensive playing style. Even in human games such differences in the playing styles can be found but the lesser such changes in style occur, the better the game becomes.

To conclude, good Chess engines are much more powerful than any human minds but they still have some characteristics that need improvements. Improving on these characteristics can make chess games much more interesting to watch and much more unpredictable.