25 September 2010

The Rampant Expansion of Theory

In Who Is the 'Father of Chess960'?, I related an account of the creation of 'Fischerandom' as given by GM Svetozar Gligoric in his book on the subject. Gligoric had more to say about the subject in a recent post on ChessInTranslation.com: Analysing by the riverside with Bobby Fischer.
[In preparation for his 1992 match with Spassky], Bobby asked if I could play a training match with him. At first I didn’t want to, but I had to give in to his wishes. He was panicking about how theory had developed during his twenty-year absence from chess. That was why he came up with his own version of chess, where the starting position would be determined by the drawing of lots. And he began to torment me with persistent requests to write a book about it.

I told Bobby that I had very little information, but he wouldn’t let it go: "Write that book! You have to do it!" In the end I started to gather a few crumbs of material, and a few years ago a book on "Fischer Random Chess" was published in London.

There I wrote that "Fischer Random Chess" would never replace classical chess, but could exist in parallel with it. And I turned out to be right: there are now tournaments in Fischer Random Chess, and moreover great success has been achieved in it by the same players who play well in classical chess.

I don’t think that classical chess will ever die out. Capablanca feared the spectre of the "draw death" of chess, while Fischer feared the rampant expansion of theory. Perhaps a time will come when grandmasters can’t think up anything new in the opening, but then the struggle’s centre of gravity will shift to the middlegame, and the endgame. To a degree we can already observe a situation like that now.

Before seeing this, I hadn't known that Fischer had any connection with Gligoric's book. I should have guessed.

1 comment:

HarryO said...

Hi there
But by shifting the focus of chess from the opening to the middle game and end game, chess becomes untenable because a major portion of it (the opening phase) is completely glossed over. I acknowledge that it is not actually glossed over from the players perspective because they have analysed the opening at some earlier stage of their career, but as a game, as a spectacle, as an experience, it is ridiculous to play the opening in automatic pilot. It is a beautiful phase of the game that should be treasured, not glossed over. It is like if tennis players in the USA grandslam final gave each other a set an a half each before the match, and then played the rest of the five set encounter from there. Ridiculous (in my opinion).