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Updated version 3.0 of the future of chess (links added)

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I once predicted on the chesstalk message board that chess in its present form - with its basic rules as they have been for several centuries - will be mostly how it's played, competitively at least, for 'only' about 100 more years (Canadian IM Jean Hebert was more optimistic, predicting it would be at least 500 years before that happened). That's even assuming no exceptionally epic events in the history of humanity occur before then (e.g. WWIII and/or large scale divine intervention, that may, for example, rid us of any technology that's arguably undesirable in some way).

I expect that chess opening theory will have been developed to such an extent in 100 years that (unless not using a fixed start position, as in the Chess960 variant) drawing lots for choice of opening like in standard 8x8 checkers tournaments may become necessary, which I expect many competitive chessplayers would strongly dislike. Another issue is computer-assisted cheating, which may or may not get really out of control at some point. At the least, I assume it's a bit of a worrying possibility for some players & organizers. Computers being stronger than humans may also make chess a harder sell to many members of the public. A bit sad, because in other ways computers have helped boost chess, for now.

The future of chess as I see it is that after about 100 years a chess variant that has highly desirable features will become dominant, or 'the next chess', as one wag once put it ('the new chess' may not be any less ambiguous as a term). It will have more possibilities in the opening phase of the game, with or without using a fixed starting position (which I would actually prefer using, for possibly better study and merchandising literature etc. on the variant, and for better popularizing of it, say for decorative sets on coffee tables in homes, or in stores, movies, etc.). It would also ideally be better resistant to computer playing engines or endgame tablebases than chess is in its present form, and be a game of pure skill too. For the thrill of the chase, pieces that are kings should be in such a game, though this may well limit how computer-resistant the game would be. Personally I prefer a game that's just a 2 player game if possible, and I suspect a big majority of players do too. It would also be good to have a lower rate of drawn games among top players than in chess. I have other ideas about what pleases me personally in a chess variant, and I've got this elsewhere on my blog, but the future of chess may not unfold in every way I'd hope for.

How might such a chess variant that largely replaces chess in 100 years proceed to do so? Chess variants that people have tried to promote before the internet came along almost invariably met with slow or limited success in trying to popularize them. With the internet (again, assuming its accessibility is not curtailed, say by some epic event for mankind), now chess variants can be played with ready opponents by those willing, and be tested for computer-resistance online, though frequently for a price. A possible problem is that, if not wholly altruistic, a great game's inventor may proceed to patent or license the variant in various ways. That might hinder the spread of serious over the board competitions, literature or clubs devoted to the game (or hinder the development of a possibly improved version, or variant, of such an already great game) for a long time to come. Still, 100 years is a long time, assuming such a golden chess variant that's 'the next chess' is invented & begins growing in popularity anytime soon. Arimaa may turn out to be a hugely popular 8x8 board game, but, as mentioned already, I would prefer a game that includes kings that can be checkmated, for one thing.

For comparison purposes, in the early 1990s at least, world championship 8x8 checkers events had two sections, one with games played starting 3 moves into a randomly chosen opening sequence. 8x8 checkers hasn't yet died out in popularity, perhaps due to the internet. Below's a link re: International Checkers (i.e. 10x10 board) which strangely uses piece movement rules that I'd guess may make the game more drawish than 8x8 checkers:

Here's a link re: my own idea for what might become the next chess, which I dubbed Sac Chess (may be bit computer-resistant: large # legal moves + heuristics; also, given it's 10x10, it might be renamed International Chess if it ever becomes popular enough). That's followed by a link to free playing package for it & for other chess variants than my own; note that many such games might have shuffled setups a la chess960, if suitable, should exhaustive opening theory ever be a worry:

A link about Arimaa:

[edit: in 2015 top humans finally lost to a computer at Arimaa; link below.]

A link to discussion of my personal preferences for chess variants & other board games of skill:

A link re: some modern problems for chess:

Below is a link re: my perceived benefits & disappointments with offline chess as a master:

A link re: some ideas of mine for new Chess Federation of Canada services for its members:

A link re: some thoughts of mine re: reducing perceived geek factor of chess:

Below is a link re: 12 reasons to play chess as it is now without much taking skill level or ambition into account:

A link re: why chess is so popular among board games of skill:

Updated 07-01-2017 at 08:50 PM by Kevin Pacey

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