A chess piece for Intel, and some leftover facts

Working, or intending to work, on a computer-aided look at my first game in California. I got fed to the lions: GM Melikset Khachiyan (who was one of Levon Aronian’s coaches at one time). But Stockfish says not all was as it appeared….

In the meantime, while I’m trying to spin up the flywheel….

I got to write a chess article for work, on behalf of Intel’s digital magazine IQ.

How technology changed a 1,500-year-old game

It’s very much intended for the non-chess audience, but since I got to interview GM Sam Shankland, GM Maurice Ashley, and Dr. Kenneth W. Regan (world’s leading authority on computer cheating), I learned a ton and heard some nuggets that were new to me. Some of which are in the article, and some of which aren’t.


Shankland estimates he evaluates or calculates 150 positions per minute. Wow! I had never heard any similar estimate to benchmark against, but subsequently found an IBM article that said Kasparov in his prime did 3/second, or 180/minute. So Shankland’s # seems plausible.

– Regan is absolutely fascinating. (In my prep work I discovered Howard G’s excellent cover story from Chess Life magazine with tons of detail about cheating detection. Great stuff, Howard!) Regan answered questions I threw out, thinking ‘NOBODY knows this stuff’.

When does the first non-book move (well technically non-previously-played move) occur on average in GM games? Regan says it’s around move 12. He’s looking at data here, not speculating. That’s quite a bit earlier than I imagined.

This is more of an estimate based on watching Stockfish evaluations: Regan says about 20% of GM game outcomes are determined, more or less, by superior preparation. A big percentage even at the GM level are determined by a “blunder” but the definition of a blunder is a bit subjective. Regan talked me through a recent Kramnik win as an example. Classic “pressure chess” leading up to a fatal mistake — do you classify that as a blunder, or something else? (Have lost which game– will figure out and post link. Update: aha. It was against Nepo, not Meier.)

– And Mr. Millionaire Chess Ashley is just fun to talk to, about everything but especially the minute-but-material differences between the top 10 and the next 90. A money quote (not in the article), about Magnus Carlsen’s memory:

Mangus is a freak. Kasparov was ridiculous [as well]. Magnus reads everything and remembers absolutely everything, including random stuff that’s so obscure, it’s like, why do even you care? Even I’m not that into chess! And I’m a grandmaster!


5 thoughts on “A chess piece for Intel, and some leftover facts

  1. I calculate or evaluate 120 positions per minute! Oh wait, that’s a typo, it’s actually 20 positions per minute. Also, several of them are not legally possible from the original position, but that just makes it more fun!

    Good article in iQ. Still don’t see a dragon in the Dragon Variation pawn formation, though. Looks like a snake. But that’s a different opening…

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