It was an evening of enthralling discussion with five-time world champion V. Anand and IM V. Saravanan on some of the finer aspects of evolution of the game and Anand’s journey through it to the summit.
The event was organised by Chennai International Centre at the Madras School of Economics titled “Chess- evolution from mind to machine.”
Chess has been pioneer in terms of using technology or computers and Anand spoke with anecdotes on the way it has transformed the game, positively and otherwise.
“The greatest change computers have brought to the game has been to remove uncertainty from the game. If I know something to be good, I am 100 per cent sure of it. We have gained certainty but also kind of lost that charm,” said Annad
“Chess is always about uncertainty and so now players are trying to become unpredictable. They have different openings and many systems so that opponent has to work for it.”
“Even the players who play the so-called anti-computer chess, it is because of the computers. It influences behaviour.”
Recalling the first time he used a computer in the late 1980’s, “we did not know what to do. I used a text editor and keyed in the moves. It took 20 minutes to key in a one game so I stopped using it for six months.”
“Later, I got two floppy disks; one with the chess program and another with 2,000 games. I could just search games of players like (Gary) Kasparov with specific instances like against a certain player or with white pieces. The search field made the key difference.
“When the chess engines came, I was progressing because the calculations I was lazy to do, I could leave it to the engine.”
Elaborating on how it has influenced him personally, Anand said, “I was always good with computers but five years ago I was using it the wrong way and my play did suffer. In the long run though it has helped.”
The 47-year old added it was not the moves that made the difference as a computer today will be outdated in three years time but the confidence it gives a player.
On what the players have had to work on with advent of computers, Anand said, “In the pre-computer days, you could remember 100 odd games, so you could still figure it out and had a 50-50 chance of getting a move right. But with powerful computers we have, it has analysed out next 10 moves, you have to know it or else you are done.”
The discussion started on a lively note with Anand recalling his early days and kept audience in splits speaking about playing the Soviet players and wondering about the presence of KGB officials during events to how at one tournament he started with nine Soviet players but ended with couple of Russian players and Ukrainian players following the dissolution of the Soviet Union during the event.
When asked about the year gone by Anand said it was a satisfactory 2016 for him with some good results that has provided him a good base for the upcoming year. Anand starts 2017 with a tournament in Zurich in April.