Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Greatest Chess Playing Entity on Earth?

One of my favorite chess web sites,, conducts correspondence chess games. These 'Chessgames Challenge' as they call it has these rules: one side is played by members of, called The World Team. Members vote on a move; the move that gets the most votes is the one played. The opponent is a lone individual. Both sides are allowed to use computers for assistance. The rules for individual games have varied; for example, one game allowed two days to make a move. Another game allowed three days for a move, and the opponent to The World team can take extensions.

The first game was played against Arno Nickel, who had the Black pieces. Arno Nickel is a correspondence chess Grandmaster, chess writer and publisher. The second game was played against Yuri Shulman, who had the White pieces. Yuri Shulman is a Grandmaster who won the 2008 US Chess Championship. The third game was played against Gert Jan Timmerman, who had the Black pieces. Gert Jan Timmerman was the fifteenth ICCF World Champion in correspondence chess. The World Team of won all three games.

These are interesting experiments in chess. For example, they have bearing on the subject of collective decision making and gives credence to the notion of the 'wisdom of crowds.' Also, there has been some discussion as to the theoretical importance of the games, that is, whether they have influenced evaluations of certain chess lines and whether the games have influenced play in the chess community at large. Another question also is, "How strong is the World Team?" I would say that it plays at least on the 2800 level. The only other chess playing entities that may be stronger are: the current World Champion Viswanathan Anand; the current correspondence chess champion; and the computer program Rybka 3.

1 comment:

AdamEdison said...

Excellent post. The wisdom of crowds could be a Big Thing.