Chess in the Times

1/13/2005 – When chess makes it to an extended article in the venerable New York Times, that is news. Dylan Loeb McClain summarizes the state of chess in an age of computers, making Garry Kasparov "responsible for the widespread adoption of electronic aids by chess players". Excerpts...

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Excerpts from the NYT article:

Game databases, many of which are online, give players information about what opening strategies their opponents use. And rapidly improving chess computer programs can analyze games and make suggestions about what to play. In many cases, electronic game collections are replacing books as chess players' primary source of information.

Using computers and databases during tournament matches is not allowed, and most players say that cheating is rare. But using such systems to help prepare has become ubiquitous. Before people started using databases, a player who came up with a new move in an opening might be able to use it several times before enough people found out about it to start preparing for it. Now innovations are known almost as soon as they are played. "The profit maybe is very small," Mr. Kasparov said. "You can only use it one game."

Mr. Kasparov himself may be most responsible for the widespread adoption of electronic aids by chess players.

André Schulz, editor of Chessbase (chessbase.com), an online database and news site based in Hamburg, Germany, said that Mr. Kasparov met one of the company's founders, Matthias Wullenweber, in 1985, when Mr. Kasparov was preparing for his second world championship match against Anatoly Karpov. With suggestions from Mr. Kasparov, Mr. Wullenweber created a program that would allow someone to search a database of games based on different specifications, like player names, positions and opening names.

Mr. Kasparov was enthusiastic about the resulting program and when Mr. Wullenweber started selling it, Mr. Kasparov gave it an endorsement sure to catch the attention of other players. "It's the greatest development for chess since the invention of the printing press," Mr. Kasparov said.

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