Here’s The Fascinating Way Computers Have Changed The Way Humans Play Chess Against Each Other

Here’s The Fascinating Way Computers Have Changed The Way Humans Play Chess Against Each Other

JOE WEISENTHAL NOV. 2, 2013, 5:17 PM 3,280 2

The most anticipated chess match in over a decade begins next week. On November 9 in Chennai, India, upstart Norwegian chess prodigy Magnus Carlsen will attempt to become the world champion by facing off against Viswanathan Anand over the course of 12 games. Carlsen gets all the attention because he’s just 22 and even does modeling, but Anand is one of the all-time greats, and is the defending champion.James Crabtree at FT has a great profile of Anand, and what he’s doing in preparation for the big match. In addition to rigorous practice (he says he does more intense training in one day than he did during his entire training for a world championship match against Kasparov in 1995) there’s also a regular physical fitness routine (running, swimming, etc.).

Particularly fascinating is how Anand describes the impact of computers on human vs. human chess.

Thanks to powerful computers, a player can gain incredible insight into the weaknesses and strengths of a given opening strategy. Thus to combat this, a player must have a varied opening repertoire, and not rely too much on any one line, lest their opponent become too knowledgeable about the possible positions.

He describes the preparation process as akin to plotting an ambush in a giant forest. The terrain is too vast to comprehend in its entirety, he says. “But there are areas that you will know better than your opponent”, and that is where you prepare to attack, aided in your preparation by the most important change to sweep through the game of chess in decades: computers. “The way people play chess nowadays, which is to keep on switching their openings, being much more opportunistic – I think that is a direct result of computers. Even the way people play tournaments – everything has changed.”

Top competitors who once relied on particular styles of play are now forced to mix up their strategies, for fear that powerful analysis engines will be used to reveal fatal weaknesses in favoured openings. The result has in some ways made chess more defensive, increasing the risks of daring, adventurous gambits. But in championship matches, where draws are common and the final result is likely to be decided by just a handful of victories, unexpected approaches become even more prized. “Anything unusual that you can produce has quadruple, quintuple the value, precisely because your opponent is likely to do the predictable stuff, which is on a computer,” Anand says.

Computer chess encourages a variation of strategies, and it encourages approaches that are unusual.

Should be a fascinating match!

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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