We all love playing and watching Chess. I mean all of us can definitely recall the spine-chilling, nail-biting moment while looking at the serene faced Vishwanathan Anand and waiting for his next perfect move. But his recent prediction regarding the future of the World Chess is right here and is much alarming.

To start with, the Artificial Intelligence (AI) programme AlphaZero’s recent mind-boggling win over a 100-game Chess match against highest-rated chess engine Stockfish, has definitely taken machine learning to a different level altogether. Also, this win is quite a significant one with AlphaZero learning about Chess only 4 hours prior to the match.

To this win, five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand regarded that, “The chess world will get scrambled. The current rating list will be scrambled. I think it will happen gradually. It can definitely be a world-changing tool.”

Briefly, Stockfish is the go-to preparation tool for top players. So, this tool being destroyed by the AlphaZero algorithm, which again has no domain knowledge barring the rules of the game, is beyond unbelievable.

For, AlphaZero, this has been devised by the Google-owned company DeepMind. Also for someone like Anand, who has been entirely been brought up on the chessboard, it was only in the recent past that he has shifted to a technology-powered version of the game, the first reaction to the match result was pure astonishment.

He further added that “To watch such a strong programme like Stockfish, against whom most top players would be happy to win even one game out of a hundred, being completely taken apart is certainly definitive. The important bit is the lack of human knowledge. AlphaZero did not base its conclusions on what we already thought and suspected because that knowledge might be incomplete, inaccurate. So we’ve got a clean start and the implications are very interesting.”

To look back, AI in chess had its first historic moment exactly 20 years ago, when IBM Supercomputer Deep Blue beat reigning human world champion Garry Kasparov in a six-game match under standard time controls. AI-powered Chess games combine high-performance alpha-beta search and domain-specific adaptations with different positions, fed into it by its human creators.

AI and Chess
Image Credit: ESPN

However, gaining excellence in the game with only self-play and no human interference has actually led AlphaZero to score 72 draws and 28 wins against what’s easily the highest-rated chess engine.

In addition, unlike Stockfish, which searches 70 million chess positions per second, AlphaZero skims through just 80,000. To this Anand regarded that even this is also quite a gigantic amount when compared with humans, against other programmes, still, discrimination prevails.

So, his concluding words regarding the impact of AI on Chess read something like, “Among the short-term effects, I imagine it would be more opportunistic. If you’re able to see some new games and see a new idea tried which hadn’t even occurred to you before and if you are able to make sense of it before others, you might be able to use it here and there. But once this technology becomes available to all, you’ll have a generation that will see the chessboard in a completely different way.

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