Is This The Future Of Chess?

Today, a top engine can play literally any first move and handily beat Magnus Carlsen. The future of the chess competition between humans and computers is pretty clear: with every day passing the gap between us is going to get bigger.

The real question is how the inevitable progress of chess engines will affect human play.

As Yogi Berra correctly pointed out, it is tough to make predictions, especially about the future. Indeed, no one knows how tournament chess will look 10 years from now. I want to discuss only the obvious trends we can witness today.

The defining moment in the chess competition of human vs. computer happened in 1997 when the program Deep Blue beat the world champion Garry Kasparov. Then even the most optimistic proponents of the theory of human superiority realized that in this kind of competition, we are doomed. So, instead of the “humans are smarter than computers” mantra, we comforted each other with “yes, computers play stronger, but they don’t understand chess, they just calculate better!”

Indeed, we had numerous games as proof of this statement. Take for example the three moves that shook the chess world in the very first game of the Kasparov-Deep Blue match:

Three random moves not linked by any plan and making Black’s position more vulnerable looked like beginner’s play. And yet they were played by some entity that managed to beat the world champion!

So how´s it going to go down? Will computers solve chess and destroy all human competition, erasing all interest in the game? Or will mankind step up and organize a progressive plan for a promotion that pushes it to new limits of popularity?