22 January 2011

Fischer Compares Chess960 to Puffed Wheat

I've already referenced a number of audio clips where Fischer explained his new type of chess: Fischer Explains the Rules of Fischer Random and Fischer's Last Interview. Now here's a video clip.

Bobby Fischer travelling from Japan to Iceland (1/3) (8:00) • 'Excerpts from the DVD "Bobby Fischer and Me" by Gudmundsson.'

The YouTube description says,

Former world champion Bobby Fischer on his way from Japan to Iceland being interviewed during the ride and flight on chess, Fischer Random, pre-arranged matches, Karpov and Kasparov and more...

Here are direct links to YouTube for the three parts: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. Part 1 has nothing about chess or about Fischer Random and I'm only including it here because it's first in the sequence. It's not until midway through Part 2 that Fischer starts on the subject when he says, 'I hate chess very much'. When asked why, he answers,

'Because I know what chess is all about. It's all about memorization, about pre-arrangement.'

'But creativity?'

'Creativity is lower down on the list', shaking his head.

'But you became World Champion on creativity.'

'First of all, it was a long time ago when I played with Spassky the first match. And even the second match is already some time ago, thirteen years ago. And chess just in the last few years has changed dramatically with all this computer stuff. But really, if you analyze chess objectively, very objectively, it's been a lousy game going back even to the time of Morphy. There was a lot of book.'

'But there still is a place for talent, for creativity. It isn't all pre-arrangement, all theory.'

'No, not all, of course, I agree. But why do you want to get involved with something that is mainly rote and pre-arrangement? Obviously it's not all that, but the creativity is maybe number three on the list. The first is pre-arrangement, then memorization, then comes creativity.'

'As opposed to Fischer Random, there you put creativity first.'

'Right! Let me explain something about Fischer Random. I've never made any claims that this is the greatest thing since puffed wheat or whatever, you know what I mean? I never made any claim saying this is perfect. What I say is that it's much better than the old chess. For example, let's say you could have a million chess-like games. Maybe a million of them (or ten million) are better than Fischer Random. The point about Fischer Random is that it's basically the same as the old chess, except you get rid of the theory and it's very easy to remember the rules. That's my point, you see?'

He then goes on to talk about Capablanca's chess variant. I'll continue the transcription in another post.

1 comment:

HarryO said...

Thanks for the transcription. Really important to do that so that the search engines can find what Bobby had to say...

Right at the moment that you have posted these videos about Bobby's views on Chess, we are at the amazing Wijk aan Zee tournament for 2011.

Bobby is exactly right about chess. Time and time again there is virtually no discussion about the opening any more until move 15-20. The A-group players are pretty much forced to have to pre-arrange their openings with novelties that only computer analysis and teams of workers will find. If you do not do this you have very little chance even with immense talent.

And Nakamura! What a talent. Here is the situation Nak find's himself in time and time again with SP518:

"Nakamura once again found himself with a difficult position, this time against Ponomariov, and decided to try to solve his problems tactically"
Quote: Chessbase

The point is that if there is that much theory that must be committed to memory in order to become competitive in Chess, then we have reached an absurd moment....

Those kids should be studying theory that is truly useful to humanity in the sciences, not wasting all that effort on Chess when there is no need for it. They should be able to play competitive chess and still get on with a professional life outside of chess as happened in the past. Chess will never have the exposure and money in the sport like football or tennis...

As Bobby said, why do things the hard way? Chess is just a game and so Chess960 changes nothing but removes the volumes of prearranged theory and parrot like memory skills. It is a smarter solution for a game, not a harder one.

Think about it. We want Chess to be an art yes? An actor has to memorize volumes of lines of text for a role. As soon as the role is over, they can forget that text and move on. But in Chess, players have to continually add to the memory skills never forgetting any of it. There is no opportunity for them to relax unless they use teams of workers and computers that keep them refreshed. If you are able to get the balance right between forgetting and remembering, other processes of the mind take over and you might even experience some creativity in your art, like an actor!

Yeah I here people saying that the modern chess player doesn't have to keeping adding to their memorization because they can guess the current trends in opening theory and thus pre-arrange what they need to memorize. But again, is that a truly smart exercise or just a harder one?

I worry that the promoters of Chess today are biased against 960 because of associations with the game and Bobby's anti-semitic leanings (that were irrational because whatever apparent negatives Bobby put on them, his frustration made him forget that those "negatives" exist in all of us humans independent of race and are not specific to race). In other words, Bobby was a genius but still liable to faults of reasoning simply because he was human.