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Why I Prefer Chess Bots

Or to be precise, the title should be 'Why I prefer chess bots to human players'. In short, at least with me, is that playing bots is pure fun and learning, while playing against humans is usually nothing more than a competition that always comes with various feelings that are not always related to the game per se. It's not that there are no emotions involved when playing computer algorithms, it's more in the fact that it is much easier to punch the table when the blunder comes out of nowhere if there's a screen across the board than an actual person and it's even easier to hit the 'play again' button without any regrets or remorse. Don't get me wrong here, I enjoy playing humans immensely but the chess is something that occupies me on daily basis and for that the only opponent ready at any given time is artificial intelligence especially all those colorful characters from within portal.

To be honest, I've only been playing against bots for about a year now and I'm proud to say that I managed to defeat the last bot from the 'Advanced' group of computer players. It was not an easy ride, especially playing against those rated with 2000+ and for some the ratio between wins and looses goes up to 10+ to 1 in favor of AI intelligence. Perhaps, the most memorable win came against Manuel, the character described with 'Manuel is a romantic, and enjoys studying and reviewing the classic games and openings of the past'. Not much could be deduced from this description, but to tell you the truth, there was nothing romantic about his game, he is a ruthless attacker that requires full concentration and after a couple of days I finally succeeded and ended up with a really interesting middle game.

The entire game can be seen in following PGN file embedded within pgn viewer. I am still a self-learning chess player and in that regard I am only a beginner. That means having a proper knowing of an openings and their variation in chess is essential for playing a computer program. I am constantly delaying that part of education as it requires more time than just recreation chess on daily basis and all my defeats, besides blunders, have roots in poorly openings. This game was no different, it started as 'Italian Game: Anti-Fried Liver Defense'  but soon went into a long middle game that I manage to overcome after 30+ moves.

Manuel-BOT vs. zmilan11
0-1 vs Computer 14 Apr 2023 ECO: C55

To continue playing with groups called 'Master' and 'Streamers' I fear I will need to take more practice and lessons, and I am really looking forward to it. A lot of the learning can be done within alone and all within relatively cheap gold membership. With it, you get coaching and lessons provided, as well as a daily set of chess puzzles, which are a great source of fun and learning in themselves. The artificial brains behind are Komodo and Stockfish engines which are at the top every year within the 'Top Chess Engine Championship', a computer chess tournament that has been held since 2010.

All things considered, it is understandable that they have become so powerful in recent years that humans and AI bots are no longer comparable and the throne when it comes to chess belongs to chess engines. Magnus Carlsen, the current world champion, said once about that 'Now that they have become so strong in a game like that, I wouldn't stand a chance.'

The history of chess computers, engines and commercial software goes back to 1956 when the first computer, properly named 'Maniac', was able to play a simplified game of chess and even beat human players. The peak of the human–computer chess matches, was at the end of the millennium, when world champion Garry Kasparov lost a match to Deep Blue, a chess-playing expert system run on a unique purpose-built IBM supercomputer.

After that the matches between humans and machines have become quite unfair and even though tournaments are still being played, they are organized under handicaps. The human players are given various odds, like in the first game between Komodo and GM Petr Neuman in 2015. Neuman faced the engine with two-pawn odds (pawns on c2 and f2 removed) for five games and one final game at pawn-and-move odds (f7 removed). He managed to win the games overall, but in the later years, even with received odds, some of grand masters lost their matches to Komodo. 

Of course, now that AI is better than human players in any ways, the question is what is the future of chess going to be? If we go back to the first impressions of mine in this blog post, perhaps, the game of chess is not going to be the ultimate tool for competition as it was in the past or even as is today. Artificial intelligence is going to improve, but not necessarily toward the 'intelligence' part. The layers of personalities, emotions and consciousness of the sorts is going to be the next step of development of AI and therefore offered to the chess bots as well. Something that will close the gap between the machines and humans to the point that a chess bot will be more human-like opponent and will not be treated solely as a training partner. 

With this, I can only predict that Chе will one day in the future have another group of chess players, called 'Turings', for those bots that have passed the Turing test and who will be ranked with IQ instead of chess rating.


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