Wang Hao - Profile of a chess prodigy (2/2)

by Diana Mihajlova
3/29/2016 – In this second part of the profile of Wang Hao, the 26-year-old player shares his dire predictions of the future of classical chess, and his opinion of Magnus Carlsen's play. He also goes into detail on his passion for Manga, and his recommendations, as well as eclectic reading tastes from modern fantasy such as The Witcher to literary giants like Yukio Mishima.

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Over the years, Wang Hao got disillusioned with the excitement and satisfaction that chess could offer. Today, he stands by a firm belief that classic chess has no future. In the spirit of the old philosophy, of which the Chinese Tao is probably the earliest precursor, Wang Hao supports his theory with the adage: ’Everything has its end.’

He reminds me that Chinese chess has a much longer tradition, since the Tang dynasty. ’But… classic chess is doomed. It will be killed because of computers. It is a myth that chess offers endless combinations. Combinations in chess are limited! Chess is not growing. It will die.’

Wang Hao overpowered Ruslan Ponomariov in the last round of Bucharest 2013 to take second

It might sound drastic the way Wang Hao puts it, but it is not entirely off the mark. The future of classic chess has been a worrisome subject over quite some time, on various levels within the chess community. Measures has been taken, with varied effects, to change the format of tournaments or the time controls. The newest such change was applied at the recently finished 5th Zurich Chess Challenge 2016: games shortened to 40 minutes with additional 10 seconds per each move.

Would the rapid and blitz formats be a solution?

’Yes, rapid and blitz are the future of chess. Limited time, so, the first player who makes a mistake will lose.’Here he lamented that this year, regrettably, at the Al Ain Classic there was no rapid tournament. He continues, ’There is no attraction even for commentators. Rules or the format need to be changed. Fischer-random could be an answer, but it has no culture. You cannot name an opening.’

Wang Hao is not deterred from the prospect of encountering strong opposition to his opinions. He is incensed at, the way he sees it, an unrealistic mystification of chess.

’People that discuss chess giving it some unnatural philosophic powers run into big contradictions. Their talk is just an illusion. If you understand professional chess, they make you think that they don’t know what they are talking about. Even all this talk about children becoming more intelligent because of chess is just an illusion. If it were to gain intelligence, children would be better off playing computer games. There are more variations in computer games than in chess.’

Wang Hao in Al Ain 2015

Some changes in Wang Hao’s life are about to take place, which would already make a difference in his existence as a professional chess player. He is preparing to move to Shenzhen, close to Hong Kong, where he has been invited to be a coach to the Shenzhen’s chess team. He will switch teams, abandoning the Heibei for whom he has been playing until now. It will not only bring him some steady income, but it will help him to get away from Beijing, a city highly polluted, which he does not like. ’I feel like living somewhere else’, he says with a relief.

Wang Hao has no coach, but he likes to study with his second, Lou Yiping, a young Chinese IM. ’He is very good at openings. He helped me a lot’. They are primarily close friends having met at the University in Beijing, at the School of Journalism and Communication, where they both studied. He has no inclination of becoming a journalist though. The subject he specialises in is advertising. But, it is unlikely that he would practise this profession after graduation either.

However, he believes that a formal education, even as a professional chess player, is quite important and advisable. He is not in favour of ’obsession with chess and no education or culture’. He cites Kramnik as someone who had no formal schooling but who knows a lot, because both of his parents were artists and culturally oriented. What about Carlsen in this respect? ’OK, he loves football and tried to be a model.’

’Some people long to play. Wei yi, in blitz, has no chance. For now he is too weak, but he is only 16… He may become stronger later, if he does not find some other diversion. Li Chao is also obsessed. But Li and Wang Yue had a good idea for survival. They want to play less chess and earn more money. They created a chess school in Changdu, Sechuan province.’

As for himself, he has set up, as a most important duty at this point in time, to finish his University studies. Quite disciplined, he has given himself about a half a year to accomplish this task. That means, no chess for a half a year from now.

Wang Hao in Al Ain, by a street banner of the Al Ain Classic, possibly
his last tournament for a while

Talking about his University studies, I learn of his special love and appreciation of Manga, the Japanese comics. He is passionate about them and wishes for everybody to read them because he believes that the stories they depict are very deep and full of life wisdom. He passionately states: ’Manga are very serious. Westerners think manga is for kids. I don’t like this judgment’.

In connection to his love for Manga, it is understandable that he also loves animation movies. He has quite a knowledge of the cinematographic history of animation. We talked about the famous director Miyazaki Hayao who won an Oscar, in 2002, for his animated movie ’Spirited Away’. However, he is quick to point out that although this movie won an Oscar, it is not his favourite. He much prefers ’Princess Manonoke’, by the same director.

He is so much taken by this artistic genre that he suggested to his university mentor to write his final paper on animation movies. His subject was accepted, but, as advised by his mentor, he will be looking at the animation movies from a social and communication point of view.

On the left: a poster of the 2002 Oscar winner ’Spirited Away’; on the right: a still from ’Princess Manonoke’

I remembered that another of my interviewees had a special love relationship with the Manga, the Polish shogi woman master, Karolina Styczynska. It must not be a coincidence; perhaps, we should heed Wang Hao’s advice and check on the Manga literary genre. Another popular manga story, ’JoJo’s Adventure’, according to him, is ’a must read.’

JoJo – Wang Hao’s manga hero

Wang Hao generally likes literature and movies. His favourite pastime is reading. He likes fiction: novels and dramas. Even in the classic literature, he likes Japanese authors, particularly Yukio Mishima (Ed: I could not agree more!) and his novel ’Spring Snow’. During the Al Ain Classic, he was engrossed in ’The Witcher’ series by the Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, a fantasy series of short stories and novels, which he absolutely intended to finish by the end of the tournament. 

’Tournaments are usually quite a lonely affair. We do not mix up much among friends. Closed tournaments tend to be friendlier. On the rest day we socialise a bit more. It can be even quite fun.’

He had established a closer interaction with Levon Aronian whom he had assisted in preparing for the 2011 Candidate Matches.

’Aronian has lots of ideas about politics and sociology. He reads a lot, but he does not like animation. (He smiles wryly) Before we kept in touch. But now I am lazy for keeping up with communication. That time, I did not have such an opinion about chess. Probably he would disagree. Anyhow, time will tell.’

2011 World Chess Team Championship, first board best players (according to percent):
Wang Hao, gold; Levon Aronian, silver; Gata Kamsky, bronze

At the end of our chit-chat, I asked him if he would provide our readers with one of his games that he would annotate himself. But he met my request with an unexpected declaration: ’I cannot write notation.’ To my surprised look he clarified: ’I do not like going through my games, analysing them in a written form.’

However, some time later, I was pleasantly surprised when I received a game, from the latest Al Ain tournament, annotated by himself!

V. Onischuk - Wang Hao (annotated by Wang Hao)

[Event "4th Al Ain Chess Classic Al-Ain"] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.12.26"] [Round "4"] [White "Onischuk, V ."] [Black "Hao, Wang"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C01"] [WhiteElo "2612"] [BlackElo "2707"] [Annotator "GM Wang Hao"] [PlyCount "116"] {This game was played in round four when both players stood at 100% with 3.0/3. } 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Bd3 {My opponent recently played some games of this rare line against French. Naturally, I had prepared thoroughly for this.} dxe4 4. Bxe4 Nf6 5. Bf3 Nbd7 (5... c5 {is the main line. After} 6. Ne2 {Black has two options: 6...Nc6 and or 6...Be7, with dynamically balanced chances.}) 6. Ne2 e5 {This is the idea of 5...Nbd7. Black is playing against the bishop on f3.} 7. Nbc3 (7. dxe5 {looks not natural, after} Nxe5 8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 9. Nbc3 Nxf3+ 10. gxf3 Bf5 {and Black has a good position.}) 7... Bd6 8. Be3 (8. O-O O-O 9. d5 {what I prepared. Black may probably make an excellent setup with} Ne8 $1 {After} 10. g3 f5 11. Bg2 a6 {Black has a nice position.}) 8... O-O 9. d5 $6 {White started to have problems with this move.} (9. O-O {was what I had expected.} exd4 10. Nxd4 Ne5 11. Ndb5 $11) (9. Ng3 {is also decent.} Nb6 10. Qd3 Be6 11. b3 $11) 9... Nb6 (9... Ne8 10. g4 Bc5) 10. h3 $6 {Too slow.} (10. O-O {is necessary, although Black can get a slightly better position with} Ng4 11. Bxg4 Bxg4) 10... Bf5 $1 {Now White is already in trouble since the pawn on d5 is going to fall soon.} 11. g4 e4 12. Bg2 Bg6 13. Bg5 Re8 14. O-O h6 15. Bh4 Bh7 (15... Be5 {is also good.}) 16. Re1 Bc5 17. Nd4 g5 18. Bg3 Nbxd5 {Now Black is a pawn up, with a good position. During the game I thought that I could convert this advantage without problems.} 19. Nb3 Bf8 20. Qd4 Nb4 { I wanted to play solidly since there was no need to take risks.} (20... Bg7 { is probably even stronger.}) 21. Re2 c6 22. Be5 Qxd4 {The Queens are exchanged. } 23. Bxd4 Nfd5 24. Bxe4 Bxe4 25. Nxe4 Nxc2 26. Rd1 Nxd4 27. Nxd4 Kh7 {I had a good idea behind this move.} 28. Nf5 Kg6 29. f3 (29. h4 {is stronger, to stop my next move. Black still has a huge advantage after} Nf4 30. Re3 Rad8) 29... h5 30. Red2 (30. h4 {too late. Black can continue with} Rad8 31. hxg5 Nc3 32. Ne7+ Bxe7 33. gxh5+ Kxh5 34. Rh2+ Kg6 35. Rxd8 Bxd8 36. bxc3 Bxg5 {with a winning endgame.}) 30... h4 $1 {Now the pawn on h3 is already fixed, and it's too difficult to defend the position for White.} 31. Kf2 Re5 32. a3 a5 33. Ne3 Nf4 34. Nc4 Rd5 35. Nb6 Rxd2+ 36. Rxd2 Re8 37. Nd7 Nxh3+ 38. Ke3 Nf4 {Black is completely winning here, thanks to his two extra pawns. The rest was quite simple.} 39. Nxf8+ Rxf8 40. Rd6+ f6 41. Kf2 Nd5 42. Rd7 f5 43. Rd6+ Nf6 44. Nc5 Rf7 45. Kg2 Re7 46. b4 axb4 47. axb4 fxg4 48. fxg4 Kf7 49. Kf3 b6 50. Nd3 Nd5 51. Kf2 Re6 52. Rxc6 Rxc6 53. Ne5+ Ke6 54. Nxc6 Kd6 55. Nd8 Ke5 56. Kf3 Nxb4 57. Nf7+ Kf6 58. Nd6 Nc6 0-1

 

Also, on YouTube there are a large number of his games and postmortem analysis from many tournaments.
I chose one of them: his win over Anand at Norway Chess 2013 beautifully commented by Daniel King

Wang Hao’s current rating is 2717, 32nd in the world (rapid, 2752; blitz, 2744). But, since peaking at 2752 in 2013, it has been ’steadily’ declining. Throughout the last year it barely stood above 2700, in January of this year it hit a low of 2695, as the Al Ain results had not yet been computed. At 26 years of age, it seems quite an early decline after such a brilliant start. My impression is that Wang Hao has not been cultivating his talent to its full potential. He often likes to say, in a nonchalant manner ’I am too lazy to work …’ But also, a dispute with the Chinese Chess Federation has been aired here and there, about which, he was not willing to elaborate, as a result of which he did not represent his country at the 2014 Olympiad, even though he was a top Chinese player.

From our very pleasant conversation, I could detect his sensitive character, openness and sincerity. He likes to observe and pay attention to the world around him, perhaps lacking the ’healthy’ indifference that many top players possess. His dedication to his university studies must have taken its toll too. But, this is not the end. I hope that he regains stability and we will see his rating soar again. Or, he may hit a stock market windfall....As he likes to say: 'Time will tell'.


Topics wang hao

A former university lecturer in Romance philology, she is currently a painter as well as a chess journalist, and reports regularly from the international tournament scene.
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slika slika 4/1/2016 09:07
David Bronstein once said, with some pride, that he is a professional chess-player. He well deserved this title, just as so many of his contemporary greats. Beliavsky pointed out exactly the same, when giving an interview few decades later. Those fellows were paid for their job. They were professionals, doing their job and getting a regular monthly income for it.

They were also able to retire afterwards, or receive some additional help in the case of hardship. It's true, they were compelled to work to provide for their living, but all of us should be compelled to work to provide for our own living, if we are healthy. What's wrong with honest work? What's wrong with decent salary for this work?

Here we have the case of a fellow who simply wants to be rich and to enjoy in leisure. I claim he has no right to do this. If he excells in chess, then it's his responsibility to share his knowledge with the rest of the World, to play on the tournaments, to teach, to publish, to think about chess! Pavarotti explained that it's not him who possesses the voice, it's the voice that possesses him. And Pavarotti was well aware of his debt to the World, he sang until his death hour. A magnificent artist.

Unfortunately, our artists here (and I am convinced that K-K, Kramnik, even Wang Hao to a lesser extent, are equal to Pavarotti, Domingo or Picasso and Tolstoy, if you wish, in their respective fields) neglect this duty towards the public. Kudos to Anand, Gelfand and Ivanchuk for playing on! But with this overwhelming prizes, with silly introduction of rapid and blitz play into the most serious chess competitions, we are definitely on the wrong path. It is the responsibility of FIDE to change this... or it will be the FIDE's blame for the final ruin of chess.

deepestgreen deepestgreen 3/31/2016 11:13
Sounds a bit disaffected. Probably realises he will never be world champion so lashes out in a philosophically immature fashion.
ex0 ex0 3/31/2016 08:24
"Those who abandon their profession cannot be called professionals."

Those who do something without being paid for it cannot be called a professional, or being in a profession. It's more like a hobby, or doing something for fun rather than for a living. And like i said, they will never abandon it to begin with if they got paid a decent wage. When you have top 20 pros like Li Chao or Wang Hao/Yue etc not being able to even make a decent living and have to resort to opening up chess schools instead of continuing their careers in order to guarantee financial security/stability, then something is seriously wrong with the economics involved in being a SUCCESSFUL chess professional.

"They only want to be rich, and this is absolutely wrong. More money, more problem."

No, that's your erroneous opinion. There's nothing wrong with pursuing excellence, and then being rewarded financially for it once you prove to be the best in the world at it, or one of the best. What's absolutely wrong is being the best in the world at something and not being sufficiently rewarded for it. We need a system that allows them to do this without worrying about a SECOND PROFESSION, so that they can concentrate on being the best that they can be in their SOLE PROFESSION. This will allow them more time to train and less distractions, allowing them to put on the best show for US, the fans. This is how it currently is, but it needs to be that way for more of the top players, not just a select few in the top 20(like the older players who have enough clout to demand appearance fees..)
ex0 ex0 3/31/2016 08:24
Slika, it's not my opinion thats 'erroneous', it's yours. Mines not really even an opinion, or if it is, then it's based purely on facts. Like the fact that being a professional means that you are doing it for a living, and for a living means that you're GETTING PAID. In other words, you being paid is what makes you a professional or not, and usually BIG BUCKS. If you're an amateur, then sure, you can play purely out of love for the game etc. But then like i said.. if you're playing for a fun, then that's all good. However, the incentive to train isn't there, or it's not as high as for professionals. That's why pros > amateurs in nearly every sport..

The prizemoney being so high is purely due to skill. If amateurs were just as good, then they wouldn't be paying pros the amounts they currently receive..

And no, i don't believe that they are more professional than players of the past. However, you cannot compare current day players with those in the past, or at least not those from like 100 years or 200 years ago. Even comparing with Kasparov in his 20/30's is already too much. You know why? Because the difference in the value of money due to inflation and also the cost of living is too great. One dollar from back then is worth like 10 dollars now, and you could buy a loaf of bread for 10 cents, now it costs 3 dollars.

Comparing players from different decades is bad enough, let alone comparing current players to players from Morphy or Lasker or Steinitz' etc's eras..

Also, even if you can compare them, one thing doesn't add up when you do the math, and that's the level of skill. If players of old could be compared to the current day players in terms of skill, then ok. But as a 'pro', skill counts, no? In that regard, the world champions from back in the day cannot be compared to current day pros that aren't even in the top 10. Only players like Fischer and Capablanca can probably be compared, and even they still made big bucks or would never be playing if there was no prizemoney involved, so your point is basically redundant to begin with since being a pro to me is being more skilled, and being paid. That's the textbook definition of being a pro basically.. and if you think that's just my opinion, and it's 'erroneous' rather than it just being the very definition of a pro, then that's your prerogative and we can agree to disagree. :)
slika slika 3/31/2016 12:25
Well, ex0, you may keep your erroneous opinion, it's up to you. But do you honestly believe the leading players of the contemporary world are more professional than their counterparts from the past? This cannot be said. Those who abandon their profession cannot be called professionals. They only want to be rich, and this is absolutely wrong. More money, more problem.
ex0 ex0 3/31/2016 10:57
Slika, i couldn't disagree with you more about money spoiling chess, or that there is currently 'too much money in chess'. You want there to be less? And less in sports also? Why? Who would play professionally then? Why do you think they train hard and be pros? For fun? Without money, it wouldn't be 'pro'. If the world championship was played for peanuts, it would lower the reputation of chess itself, more than it already has been(due to FIDE and other scandals).

Also, if you say lower the prizemoney for sports, then are you also saying that we should lower the cost of living and price of necessities also? Even non necessities need to be lowered also, the whole cost of living does, since if you cannot support yourself and live in luxury and be secured for life as a successful professional, then who would dedicate their whole life to it in order to be the BEST they CAN BE for OUR SAKES(and the game itself's sake)? Lowering the prizemoney also directly lowers the tension and reputation. Imagine winnings for world championship was 10,000? And a tournament was 1,000 for superGM tourney? There would be 0 chess professionals left.
ex0 ex0 3/31/2016 10:49
I really hope for our sakes that China finds a way to keep their elite players playing.. otherwise soon Li Chao/Wang Yue/Wang Hao will all be gone! Maybe even Bu Xiangzhi and Ni Hua next.. they are also the same age or even older! They aren't even 30 yet i think, or some just turned.. they should be playing till they are like 40 at least imho, since you won't start losing mental acuity until past 40 imo. Players like Anand and Gelfand probably can play till 50 even the way they are going..

So yeah. This is a big issue and a big thing for China to work out if they want to have a strong chess culture. Also for the world, since China has a billion+ people, with the amount of top players they currently have, along with a world champion(and will be one for a long time imho, probably go down as best female player of all time, and i also think she will break 2700 and Judits rating also..), they should be pushing chess as much as they can and make it much more attractive for people to want to take it up professionally. But i guess the truth of the situation makes it so that their top players wouldn't even tell kids to get into chess professionally with the amount they make and the low chances of actually 'making it' into the top 10-20 where you can actually make something decent(unless you're from China! since i don't think Ding makes anything to be honest.. he's too young, probably makes less than Bu XiangZhi even if you don't count tournament wins, but who knows..)

Anyway, this post has run way too long. But it was an interesting interview, and much love to Wang Hao and the interviewer for doing this. I hope you guys can do an interview with Ding or Wei Yi next, and i hope it retains the same honest/frank discussions. Thanks guys!
slika slika 3/31/2016 10:48
Steinitz was a giornalist, Lasker was a Professor, Capa a diplomat, Alekhine had a Law degree, Euwe was a mathematician, Botvinnik an engineer, Smyslov an Opera singer (Bolshoy, Met, Scala and Convent Garden are not the only Opera houses in the World!), Tal a philologist, Petrossian a giornalist and a philosopher, Spassky a giornalist, and let me conclude this list with Karpov, who has a degree in Economy, and Kasparov, with a degree in American literature.

I am convinced that all of them honestly earned their degrees, working hard, without any privileges granted during their course of studies due to their exceptional ability in playing chess, leading them later to chess immortality. I have mentioned here only World Champions; if I include all the greats who failed to win the WC this list would have been much longer. My point is that they did not neglect their duties towards the 'ordinary world'.

As Beliavsky said in an interview long time ago, leading chess players in former USSR were entitled to receive a regular income (a salary, as we could call it nowadays) from the State, but apart from regular chess activities they had to finish their studies and get a degree. It was a condicio sine qua non. It's been similar in Eastern Europe, while Fischer and Larsen represent two serious exceptions, but please bear in mind that they were the only two great players who came from the West in the period between the Second WW and late 1980s, when several English and Dutch players attracted attention from some sponsors and became chess professionals (and again, Nunn and Speelman had Oxford degrees before becoming chess pros, by the way...)

It is true the World has much changed in last 25-30 years, a formal degree is not anymore an absolute requirement for a proper qualification or a professional career, but today there is definitely too much money in sport. Not only in chess, but in sport in general. And this is why great contemporary players like Kramnik, Wang Hao and others contemplate to leave chess. And this is why K-K duo has already left it (just for the sake of the K argument, I could include Kamsky in this list, although I praise him for his MD).

Money has spoiled the game, computers have nothing to do with it. One does not have to become a billionaire to be happy. Let us invest more money in our children, let us reduce the prizes in top tournaments. Stockfish is free! Besides, this nonsense of promoting rapid and blitz chess at serious competitions is doing more damage to chess than deep analysis by all the silicon monsters. Let us learn how to think again!
ex0 ex0 3/31/2016 10:47
I really like Wang Hao, he is quite open and he keeps it real and tells everything like it is. Even though his english is not so good, or the translation isn't the best, you can still understand his point and i get the feeling that he's pretty smart(not just chess or academic, but street/social smart also).. like when he says that the 'mystification' of chess is an illusion and how he says that saying chess increases intelligence or problem solving is rubbish, since just using a computer or playing computer games would do this in a better fashion, and that the skills that you learn from those are DIRECTLY applicable in life, ie just learning and being able to use a computer/net skillfully is enough, but playing games is also useful, since they also teach problem solving and pattern recognition and many other things.. in fact, chess itself is one of the possible games you can play on computer, so that's already > OTB chess objectively..

Think about it. Any other sport, OTB matters. But in chess? I don't see any real difference, as long as the time controls are the same, and the only differences would be negative ones that SHOULDN'T be involved in chess, like bad lighting/temperature/climate/crowds, and so on and so forth. Oh, i thought of one. It's easier to prevent cheating in person than over the internet.. and with cheating(computer :( ) being as prominent as it is in the current chess climate, OTB chess might soon be the only way to be sure that someone ISN'T cheating. All tournaments will pretty much have to be OTB, or at least if you don't want to end up with a debacle and want to reward the winners in a timely fashion without having to manually check every single game played in the tournament..

Back to my original point however, and that's the fact that in this day and age, computers are pretty much where it's at for mental stimulation.. both in terms of education, and also in terms of entertainment(that's also not to say that entertainment cannot also be educational for you nitpickers). Now I'm also concerned that kids are staying indoors and on the computer too much these days and don't get outside and do enough physical activity, but in my youth parents were also concerned with kids staying in front of the 'idiot box' all day or i guess even going out too much and not doing enough study, so i guess moral of the story is that parents will be parents and will always be 'complaining' towards their kids, or at least in my experience with asian parents.

But yeah. Even with the above concerns, i cannot lie and i have to say that computers > all for mental stimulation. Of course, there are sometimes better mediums to accomplish the same endgoal, such as reading a physical book(debatable), or playing some games in real life(including chess), but this just helps my point since it just shows that computers are directly applicable to real life.

They should of asked Wang Hao if he still wanted to be a wizard.. haha. Wang hao seems like a real friendly honest guy, and i would probably be good friends with him if we worked or went to school together. -_-

chelc888 chelc888 3/31/2016 05:23
The future of Chess is Chess-Boxing. You have all the fun of chess + you can impress a girl by playing it!!
koko48 koko48 3/31/2016 02:23
Wang Hao is just revealing the hard reality of professional chess....Only the top 10-20 players in the world can make a living playing the game

Here we have a former prodigy, a Super Strong GM ranked around 30 in the world, and he has to give up a playing career....In almost any other field (including other creative high risk/low reward professions like writing or acting or painting) the 30th best person in the world makes a better living than the 30th ranked chessplayer

Not to mention that the 30th ranked businessman in the world is a billionaire....And the business world take a lot less acumen, study, and hard work to master
sharpnova sharpnova 3/30/2016 11:09
Classical chess is indeed dying and the hoops FIDE will jump through to keep it alive a little longer will almost definitely be hilarious. Especially with the corrupt dictator absolutely everyone in the chess world hates at the head.

It's not just opening theory that will kill it. The computational space is shrinking so fast with respect to hardware and software that they'd literally have to expand the board and add more pieces for it to even have a breath of a chance. And then that won't be chess. It'll be a new game, and classical chess will be, as predicted by me, dead.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 3/30/2016 05:12
Wang Hao is right when he says that chess is finite. Maybe he is right that it will be solved in a not too far-fetched day. However, I very much doubt that the human mind is capable to comprehend and remember all the crucial strategies of the solved chess to not be able to lose, therefore, even though chess is finite, it is practically infinite for humans, since it clearly is beyond our domain.
asoni asoni 3/30/2016 12:31
chess is not just for those 2700+ guys, there are a lot amateur player who like to play otb tournaments.

Lets say we have computer who knows everything about chess. Wouldnt that be great, after u finish u game u can consult computer and see everything u didnt see correctly at the board. U dont need to ask some 'smart guy' who will critize u for this and that, at most time for no reason. As an amateur player this standard format of 1h 30 min +30 sec for game is quite good.
slika slika 3/30/2016 08:11
ywlchess2016 you are absolutely right! Wang Hao sold us here a lot of crap. That's it.
Philip Feeley Philip Feeley 3/30/2016 07:28
I completely disagree with his assessment of classical chess. The recent candidates tournament showed lots of great chess. It isn't exhausted yet, and mathematically, I don't think it will be for quite some time.
ywlchess2016 ywlchess2016 3/30/2016 07:09
A fascinating story by an excellent interviewer though it surely should not have been published here. All involved here are making their livings through chess yet they are knowingly or unknowingly damaging chess's future by putting this piece out here reading by many chess-loving kids. I seldom see folks from any other professions, sports or otherwise, do this kind of revealing and self-destructive story-telling. GM Wang Hao, a never-will-be-fully-realized genius, perhaps, tells us a life somewhat losing-guidance and conviction, it seems. To chess, which he still makes his living for the near future, Wang Hao is an unprofessional guy, to say the least. If our goal is to be heading to the opposite of promoting chess, please publish more of this type of stories. If not, I hope that we will use our intelligence, if we have any of it, to make chess more popular with each and every one of our efforts.
geraldsky geraldsky 3/30/2016 03:59
no Chinese players can play older, they stop before the age of 40
jim24 jim24 3/30/2016 12:08
Great interview. It's a viewpoint that's not often expressed publicly, but is undoubtedly shared by many, and every professional will ultimately one day have make the decision on whether the benefits of continuing outweigh the costs, whether to call it a career. Wang Hao is a serious chess player, a top 100 who at times could play at an elite level.
Cato the Younger Cato the Younger 3/29/2016 11:42
Software progress over the past few decades certainly suggests that within another decade or two draw-rates between leading programs will approach, if not quite reach, 100%. But all one has to do is watch the longest known forced mate with seven-piece endgame tablebases, mate in something like 550, to understand the complexity of chess. The unaided human mind at any time control will never fully master the game. The number of perfectly playable variations that have never been played by humans or chess engines is a number way beyond reckoning.
Nathanian Nathanian 3/29/2016 11:29
Actually, the article is well written. How many GMs can make a decent living? It is a difficult way of making a living. Besides, ChessBase did an excellent job in presenting different views. That is journalism.
GM Wang Hao has expressed his viewpoint honestly. We should treasure it dearly. Thank you, GM Wang Hao, the interviewer and ChessBase for the article.
Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 3/29/2016 08:50
I do appreciate the fact that Wang Hao expresses himself quite freely and openly (whether we agree or not with him) and has diverse interests. It is refreshing.

It is interesting to note that he does not have a coach.
Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 3/29/2016 08:31
Even if computers would solve chess, it would not make chess between humans less interesting.

Analogically, we can transport ourselves at high speeds using different means (cars, trains, rockets), but this does not make the 100 m Olympic run less interesting.
Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 3/29/2016 08:16
"Fischer-random could be an answer, but it has no culture. You cannot name an opening."

This is precisely the point of Fisher random chess - preparation of openings does not give any advantage.
AlvaroFrota AlvaroFrota 3/29/2016 08:13
Chess could die at some moment at the future, but the recently played 2016 Candidates Tournament showed to us a Chess very live, with computers or not.
Aighearach Aighearach 3/29/2016 07:44
"Today, he stands by a firm belief that classic chess has no future."

Once you figured that out, you could have spared him the negative attention.

I mean, if you start on a player profile and it isn't going well, maybe just drop the project and profile a player who says something interesting, or who is really committed to chess?

The lazy guy who isn't interested and doesn't see a future, but is willing to play because he wins and makes money... what utility is there in profiling him? For the chess fans, what utility? For him even, how is this helpful?

His rating is declining... just read the interview and you'll see it is because he's not a serious chess player.

If there was some reason for interviewing somebody not interested in chess, who doesn't study, doesn't have a coach, doesn't see a future for it, then it would have been a good interview; like others point out, it was honest. Perhaps more honest than most. The problem is, what was it honest about? That he's not a serious chess player, and isn't going to become one.
treetown treetown 3/29/2016 06:59
Great interview - very insightful and honest.
Bear in mind that his perspective is colored by his experience being trained intensively at a young age. I wonder how much of a "normal" childhood he had.

Does chess help with kids? At a high level, probably not, but for many kids chess is a tangible proof that thinking ahead and anticipating possible futures can have a positive benefit. Getting them to think beyond the immediate moment is for many a major accomplishment. But pushing a kid to be a 2000+ level player probably has not much benefit for them. Chess is relatively cheap compared to computer and video games and the final advantage is that it is easy to set up and re-set up scenarios on a chess board and review them with a child - trickier on a computer or video game.

The future of chess is hard to know. There might come a day if computing power continues to improve, algorithms continue to improve and database optimization improves that the classical game will cease to be playable - it maybe literally "solved".

Great interview!
Justjeff Justjeff 3/29/2016 05:24
Yes, a good interview. I've suspected for some time that he is correct when he says chess is not particularly unique when it comes to improving one's IQ score. There are certainly other skills that do this as well, and that also pay better in adulthood. Computer programming, for example.
Shurlock_V Shurlock_V 3/29/2016 04:57
He's wholly correct about classic chess.
gmwdim gmwdim 3/29/2016 04:01
A fascinating interview once again. Thanks ChessBase, I look forward to seeing more interviews like this.
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