CC, anti-computer and centaur chess

With computer use now an essential skill in correspondence chess, studying past computer chess trends can strenghten CC playing. I look here at anti-computer and centaur chess.

Just as we have to study openings, endgame theory, and all aspects of chess to guide engines’ analysis or use databases, studying computer chess is an essential part of CC training and preparation.

During development of chess computer programs in the second part of the twentieth century, anti-computer playing was a key strategy to fight computers by exploiting their blindspots.

Before they achieved a level higher than elite chess players, and beat the world champions at the turn of the century, players looked to play in ways difficult for the machines to understand.

Anti-computer chess entailed playing with long-term  goals focusing on strategic advantages the computers were unable to clearly evaluate or search, given limitations in their gamemanship.

Anti-computer playing is now irrelevant against engines as they can beat any human by the tactical strenght of standard engines or by the deeper evaluations of new neural network ones.

In the aftermath of chess engines superiority, a new relation was born with computers. With the challenge to beat humans behind, human computer collaboration became a new arena.

Chess were a human player plays with a computer on its side became a hot tournament format in the first decade on the twentyfirst century. Over time these contests moved from OTB to online events.

In these type of play known as advanced, centaur, cyborg or freestyle chess, humans paired with a chess engine became a combination stronger than even the strongest computers by themselves.

The combination of chess engines with humans became the new benchmark for the highest chess level, combining human and machine. The strongest engines can’t compete with centaurs.

Now anti-computer strategies have taken a new life with CC players needing to move beyond engines’ evaluations to direct them in play in a similar way than when a human faced a computer alone.

CC has taken the mantle of this evolution and play at ICCF or other computer friendly servers builds on anti-computer and centaur chess among other trends by leveraging computer use in competition.

It is important to recognize that CC builds on past computer chess developments such as the ones explored here as this can enhance a players ability to better manage engines and data.

As anti-computer play is considrered moot today and as the euphoria of centaur chess passed, we should maintain this chess knowledge by keeping computer chess research by CC players at hand.

With computers an essential tool in CC, working on our understanding of computer chess and having this history in mind we will be able to accumulate chess knowledge and understanding in our times.

Nicolas Ronderos

Nicolas Ronderos is an American ICCF Player. He is also a Good Companion Fellow at the US Chess Problem Society. He lives in Paris and tweets about CC as @CorrChess

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