Saturday, March 10, 2018

Stuff that non chess players say

After a particularly disastrous midterm test, I need to find a way to run away from my problems. Tactics Trainer would have been the usual way, but today I realized that I haven’t been written an article for quite some time.

Instead of the usual game analysis, I’ve decided to share some stuff that have been told to me by my non chess-playing friends. I’m not talking about that kid who boasts of becoming a GM and gets destroyed in 20 moves. I’m referring to the genuine non-players: Those who have never touched a board before, and refer to the knight as the “horsey”.

"What did you just call me again!?"

Ready for some cringe?

1. How many moves can you see ahead?

I don’t know where this idea came from, but somehow it has stuck in the mind of non-players as the defining factor of chess ability. So I’m supposed to be able to see 3, 5, 10 moves ahead? How many can Carlsen see? 20?

The following article pretty much sums up what is wrong with this idea. Yes, chess is a game of calculation, but it’s impossible to calculate every single line “N number of moves ahead”; everyone knows how the number of variations increase exponentially after the first few moves. Only computers have the capability to brute-force all of that.

And even the best brute-force algorithm got bested by AlphaZero

Then what are chess players seeing? We don’t actually see individual moves. What we see are patterns, like strategic, tactical, or opening/endgame motifs. And we use this to calculate candidate moves, aka selected variations that we feel are the best.

To answer our dear non-player friend’s question, no I’m not Stockfish, I can only see one move ahead. That’s why I keep blundering pieces, right?

2. Just capture the other guy’s queen! Once you eat it he will lose.

It seems that non-players have an unusual affection for the only female piece on the board, just because she can go places that other pieces can only dream of. How lovely it would be if I could win a game just by trading queens.

Qxd8 checkmate!

Sadly, queenless middlegames are a real thing, and the importance letting the rest of your pieces cooperate with one another cannot be understated.

3. So you are a Grandmaster?

Oh, how I wish I were one. But sadly, Singapore saw its only GM switch federations back to China not long ago. So I’m sorry to disappoint but no, I’m not a GM. Although I am the GM-equivalent of throwing away won games.

4. After a long and tiring day, you still want to drain your mental energy by playing chess?

Hey, you haven’t found out the therapeutic effects of playing repeated blitz/bullet and getting high after that.

Because blitz is like drugs, you know. It feels good, and you keep coming back for more… until you’ve dug a hole so deep you can’t come out.

We have blitz

5. Don’t you just join the chess club to slack?

After wondering why I choose to drain my energy in chess, you ask whether I’m slackin’? Hmm.

Try joining a full day 7-round rapid tournament and tell me how it feels after that.

6. Chess is boring.

Refer to Point 4. Unless you play the French exchange, in which case that’s your own fault.

Image from Chess Memes on Facebook

7. Only nerds play chess.

What a horrible misconception! Chess is played by a wide variety of people Well actually… I must admit this is true. Maybe that’s why all my friends in the chess club are single XD.

Promoting the latest nerd fashions with Carlsen's new glasses

What other ridiculous things have you heard from non chessplayers?


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