Anand On Computers

At the bottom there’s an interesting clip on Vishwanathan Anand discussing the impact of computers. I’d like to have been able to ask him a few questions to clarify certain things, as it is you’ll have to put up with my interpretation.

Computers are a great leveller.

Anand is talking about this from the perspective of a super-GM and how computers helped players without seconds and teams prepare openings at a very deep level. Unfortunately this is often misinterpreted by those at club level to think that they super-GM level computer preparation too. They don’t, and it can actually make players worse if they try to learn variations by rote without good understanding as a foundation, as I’ve discovered via my extensive coaching work with club players.

This is not to say that computers can’t be a useful tool for chess players of any level. But they should be used in different ways.

Opening analysis has gone incredibly far to the point that a lot of the main lines just don’t seem playable any more.

This too is something that will only apply at super-GM level and is more or less irrelevant to club players. I’ve looked through a LOT of club players games and it’s very rare for them to follow established theory for very long or indeed punish mistakes very efficiently (if at all).

There’s not much room for general rules, everything has to be analysed.

This one seems to be a bit of a red herring; the history of chess has been an ongoing story of players falsifying the ideas of their peers and predecessors and coming up with better methods of play. It might be argued that computers are continuing this process by looking at the fine print of the early moves, but this is just the opening moves and only certain kinds of positions.

Anyway, before we get to the clip I’m going to leave you with an interview with Magnus Carlsen:

I can tell you that for the first few years I didn’t use the machine’s help at all, even as a database! Back then I simply put a board in front of me, took the books I was studying at the time and looked at everything on that. And the first time I needed a computer for chess was when I started to play on the internet.