Since Chess offers a technically finite, if mind-bogglingly large, number of possibilities, it presents rich scope for the development of better computational search functions. Endgames with few pieces have been solved. The tablebases now have complete solutions for all positions with upto six pieces and some seven piece situations.
Perhaps, chess could be gradually solved by computers working on all seven-piece sets and then eight, nine, and so on. But it could take centuries. Chessbase’s April 1 joke that Vasik Rajlich had “solved” the King’s Gambit (a 31-piece position from 1.e4 e5 2. f4 ef4), using very high-end hardware and a souped up Rybka was obviously fake. But it fooled a lot of people.
Some other disciplines have also studied chess. Neurologists have wired up players and filmed eye-movements, recorded brainwaves and other vital functions. Behavioural scientists are also interested.
Researchers from Stockholm University led by Patrik Gransmark have released several papers. They investigated gender differences in chess risk-taking sometime ago. This is somewhat related to studies done on financial investing. One interesting conclusion: male chess players take more risks when playing women they find attractive.
Another study focussed on the rational learning experience among chess-players. Again this has obvious external application. A third study “Masters of our time” looks at time management, again with some focus on gender differences. Obviously issues like self-control and impatience are involved, assuming adequate controls for different levels of ability. The empirical findings are that men are more impatient and hence, use less time early on.
The diagram, WHITE TO PLAY, Jobava Vs Daniel Fridman Euro Chps, Plovdiv 2012 is a nice illustration of risk-taking. Jobava is one of the most aggressive GMs and he just left his king in the centre and went bald-headed for mate.
17.Ng5!? cxd4. The sanest defence is 17. - Bxg5 18. hxg5 Qxg5 but 19. Rh3 maintains pressure. Lines like 17. - bxa3 18. Qh5 are similar to the game.
18.Qh5! Bf6! The engines say this is the only defence. The alternatives include 18...dxe3? 19.Qxh6! gxh6 20.Bh7# and a long variation offered by annotator Oliver Reeh with 18...Bxg5? 19.hxg5 dxe3 ( or 19...Qxg5 20.Qxg5 hxg5 21.Bh7+ Kh8 22.Be4+ Kg8 23.Bxb7+-) 20.Bh7+! Kxh7 ( or 20...Kh8 21.Bxg7+ Kxg7 22.Qxh6+ Kh8 23.Bg6+ Kg8 24.Qh7#) 21.Qxh6+! gxh6 22.Rxh6+ Kg8 23.Rh8#;
19.Bxf6 Qxf6 20.Nh7 Qd8. Maybe 20...Qe7!? 21.Nxf8 bxa3 22.bxa3 Qxa3 23.Bh7+ Kxf8 is better. It seems unclear. 21.Nxf8 dxe3 22.Bh7+ Kxf8 23.0-0 e2 24.Rfe1 bxa3 25.bxa3 f5 26.Qxe2 Qd5 27.f3 Qd4+ 28.Qe3 Qxe3+ 29.Rxe3 Kf7. White's winning despite the trapped Bh7. Play continued. 30.Rb3 Bd5 31.Rb5 Rd8 32.h5 Kf6 33.Bg6 Rd7 34.Kf2 Ke7 35.Ra5 Rd6 36.Rc8 Rb6 37.Bxf5 Bb7 38.Rg8 exf5 39.Rxg7+ Kf6 40.Rg6+ Ke7 41.Re5+ Kd7 42.Rxb6 axb6 43.Rxf5 Nc5 44.Rf6 b5 45.Rxh6 Nd3+ 46.Ke3 Ne1 47.Rh7+ (1-0). After 42. g4, the roller wins.
Devangshu Datta is an internationally rated chess and correspondence chess player