No smilies, no avatars, no flashing gifs. Just discuss the issues of the day, from last night's telly via football to science or philosophy.
Started by Anchorman on Mar 23, 2014 8:21:14 PM

Anyone play?

I found this rather nice free chess program recently

It's over 40 years since I played regularly ( wasn't good then) but the program has provided me with hours of entertainment

JennyRad - 24 Mar 2014 15:23:20 (#5 of 105)

In that version of the image I can't see very clearly but - as a self-proclaimed experienced player it doesn't look like a very convincing game. It is distressingly common for games of Go that appear in the background of films, TV, etc., to look like gibberish to experienced players, because they've been set up by someone who didn't play and just wanted patterns on a board. It's a bit like those t-shirts and things you sometimes see on Chinese or Japanese teenagers, where someone's just strung a load of random English words together to look "cool".

In a pleasing counter-example, I read recently that an episode of Teen Wolf (what? never heard of it myself) has a scene with a game of Go in and they have taken care to make it a real game. Always nice when little snippets of research are done like that. (

graftonway - 24 Mar 2014 15:30:12 (#6 of 105)

I think the key to having a good game is probably not to play someone who is considerably better or worse than you are, though the way to improve is to play opponents who are a bit stronger than you. I'm sure learning the moves and basic tactics would be easy enough; after that progress would be a question of aptitude, power of concentration, memory and practice. If you're only playing casually for fun there's no need to learn a lot of opening or endgame theory which can be a bit daunting. I believe there are plenty of resources available for beginners on the internet and in books.

Lento_ - 24 Mar 2014 15:37:57 (#7 of 105)

It is distressingly common for games of Go that appear in the background of films, TV, etc., to look like gibberish to experienced players, because they've been set up by someone who didn't play and just wanted patterns on a board

It's a bit like in films which feature a game of Texas Hold 'Em poker, with the hero always getting a royal flush. The writers always pick it because it looks cool.

That hand is hugely rare though. A few years back I went through a period of playing about an hour's worth of poker four days a week. Over probably a couple of years's worth (so hundreds of hours of poker) of that I only saw at best two or three straight flushes, and none of them were ace-high.

SlasherBindman - 24 Mar 2014 17:16:01 (#8 of 105)

I mildly regret that I never learned to play chess, and now I expect it's too late. Is it possible for a late starter to reach a good enough standard to have an interesting game?

This is something I've often wondered. It all seems to be geared around getting children to learn. What is the best entry point for the middle-aged (or older) chess novice?

surferboogiewhatever - 24 Mar 2014 17:23:29 (#9 of 105)

Thanks for this timely thread, Anchorman. I have just pointed my son towards your link as he has been press-ganged into taking part in an inter-house chess competition tomorrow, and hasn't played since the one last year, when he was beaten 2-0.

Anchorman - 24 Mar 2014 17:51:09 (#10 of 105)

What is the best entry point for the middle-aged (or older) chess novice?

If you’re a complete beginner I’d suggest getting someone who can play to teach you the basics. Then click on the link in the header. Play at beginner level first.

I hadn’t played for 40+ years until a few weeks ago and was beaten 8 out of 10 times at first. Now I win at beginners level virtually all the time except for when I make a catastrophic move . I’ve now moved on to the next level( Casual) and it is much more challenging although I’m now winning perhaps 50% of the time.

My losses are largely due to me not paying enough attention. My concentration isn’t what it was 40 years ago!

Is it possible for a late starter to reach a good enough standard to have an interesting game?

Absolutely. Virtually any game is interesting just play at beginners level in the link at first or against beginners irl.

The link program has an “undo” move button so if you screw up you can undo the move and try something else and you’ll quickly learn which moves work and which don’t.

Chess is a fabulous game . You can play it at any level and get better and better until you die

Here’s a link to teach you the basic chess moves

and a very simple beginners level article on basic opening chess strategy

Personally I’d just learn the moves and go straight to the beginners level in the thread header link and take it from there.Playing against a computer you don't feel such a clot when you make silly errors as you would against a human. Make liberal use of the undo facility at first to undo your bad moves and develop your skills from there.

Chess is a game that is infinitely complex but the basic rules are simple.

Some fascinating facts about chess

there are 318,979,564,000 possible ways to play the first four moves of chess. In addition, America's Foundation for Chess found that there were 169,518,829,100,544,000,000,000,000,00... ways to play the first ten moves of chess.

The Shannon number, 10 to the 120 power, is an estimated lower bound on the game-tree complexity of chess. As a comparison, the number of atoms in the observable Universe, to which it is often compared, is estimated to be between 4 × 10 to the 79 power and 10 to the 81 power.

There are 400 different positions after each player makes one move apiece. There are 72,084 positions after two moves apiece. There are 9+ million positions after three moves apiece. There are 288+ billion different possible positions after four moves apiece.

There are more 40-move games than the number of electrons in our universe. There are more game-trees of chess than the number of galaxies (100+ billion), and more openings, defences, gambits, etc. than the number of quarks in our universe! --Chesmayne

The longest chess game theoretically possible is 5,949 moves. The first chessboard with alternating light & dark squares appeared in Europe in 1090. The record of moves without capture is of 100 moves during the Match between Thorton and M. Walker in 1992.

RosyLovelady - 24 Mar 2014 18:06:17 (#11 of 105)

Feels a bit inspired.

GyratingTrampoline - 24 Mar 2014 18:18:57 (#12 of 105)

I regularly play on Because didn't exist when I started playing online. I'd recommend playing against human opponents as there's something a bit weird about AIs, plus I'm sure psychologically its easier to make stupid mistakes against an opponent you know to be non-sentient.

DonkeyOT - 29 Mar 2014 14:23:31 (#13 of 105)

Wise words, my friends:-

Chess is the greatest waste of human intelligence outside an advertising agency.

Raymond Chandler

Anchorman - 29 Mar 2014 14:49:11 (#14 of 105)

Anyone thinking that is clearly far from wise.

Chess teaches a wide range of skills including long term thinking, ,patience, concentration, strategy, memory

GyratingTrampoline - 29 Mar 2014 20:31:50 (#15 of 105)

That is like when people try to justify music education by emphasising how its good for developing communication skills blah blah. Do we need a pricetag on everything?

Tenesmus - 29 Mar 2014 21:25:26 (#16 of 105)


So chess, then.

Tenesmus - 29 Mar 2014 21:40:00 (#17 of 105)

I'm friends with one of the top Irish players. He used to play someone in Russia via postcards.

He has a lot of chess books. A lot...

MonsoonBloom - 29 Mar 2014 21:44:08 (#18 of 105)

Far from wise indeed.

There's no intelligence in advertising.

MontyPeculiar - 29 Mar 2014 21:44:39 (#19 of 105)

I also use, been playing for about 18 months, after a gap of 30 years.

dreams99 - 29 Mar 2014 21:45:52 (#20 of 105)

I've been playing on here for about 8 years:

MontyPeculiar - 29 Mar 2014 21:47:01 (#21 of 105)

Haha, not clicking that link

dreams99 - 29 Mar 2014 21:47:31 (#22 of 105)

It's a chess site.

MontyPeculiar - 29 Mar 2014 21:48:43 (#23 of 105)

Yes, jokefail

Anchorman - 29 Mar 2014 22:00:09 (#24 of 105)

Do we need a pricetag on everything?

People claiming chess is a waste of intelligence are due a response

Check Subscriptions
Home » Notes and Queries