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lorenzo.r.2nd
lorenzo.r.2nd
Level Two
Level Two

Best way to measure quality of play? Empty Best way to measure quality of play?

on July 6th 2020, 12:43 am
I doubt anybody here is a fan of chess, so ill try to ask this in way that normal people can understand it without having to ask me deep questions about it.

In chess, finding out who the best player ever is a hard thing to do, but for some reason, everybody wants to do it. Players from different eras play in different ways using different methods and different techniques that simply worked better at said time. Chess has not changed (the way it is played) for about 200 years (likely more), so technically speaking, what worked now, would also work in 1820, and what worked in 1820, could also work now if people were to do it correctly.

In recent times, they found a somewhat reliable method in finding out how good a player is: they have a very strong chess computer look at the games that a player played and the computer tells us if he played the best moves, something close to it, a mediocre move, a bad one, or a horrible one. It works in doing exactly that, but its not perfect since good players can also be inconsistent, regardless of how good they can be at their best, so if you were to analyze many of his games, he might fall short of his 'hype' when compared to a worse player who simply played more consistently well. In theory, this computer analysis, as they call it, doesn't care about how strong either player is, so it just rates them based on how well they played by comparing their moves with its own, perfect moves. Now, in case you are wondering, how strong the players are 100% matters in these sort of things. Why? Because better players find better moves more easily than worse players do. It is that simple. So a stronger player would literally have an easier time playing weaker opponents, just like a normal COD player would against a pro. This means that the games from a strong player played against a weak one are unusable because they do not portray how strong he really when playing people close to his level of skill. The other problem is finding out when a player played at his best. This matters because comparing players different eras can done by looking at their scores against a common opponent (player A played player B 7 times, and won all 7 of those times in close games; player C played player B 7 times and easily beat him 4 of those times, but lost the 3 other times- who is the better player overall?), but if an opponent does not play consistently over long periods of time, then this way looking into it is simply useless (if Luke had fought and beaten Yoda in ESB, no one would assume he could also beat Yoda in ROTS). 

So we get the engine to look at his games from different times in his life- lets say that turns out that he played better when he was older than when he was younger. Problem solved, correct? Well, not really, because now we would have to look at the players that he played during those two time periods, and figure out which time period had the stronger players. If the players were weaker when he was older, than him being better than when he was younger doesn't sound as reliable as it did before, since the opposition was simply not what it used to be. And because you have no idea whether he was stronger when he was younger or when he was older, you cannot compare the players from either era simply because they played a similar opponent, regardless if the computer thinks one is better than the other.

Now comes in the problem with consistency of play- what does this mean? It means: does player A always play the best possible 80% of the time like player B does, OR does player A play the best possible move 70% to 90% of the time like player C does? Well, one might say that it doesn't matter because the average of 70 to 90 percent is simply 80, just player B. So whats the problem? Problem is knowing WHEN he is going to play at 70%, and when he is going to play at 90%. If he plays at 70% against player B (who plays at 80%), then he simply loses, but if he plays at 90%, then he wins. Meaning that stronger players (who can play at 90%) CAN lose to weaker players because they do not consistently play at said 90% all the time. Does this player deserve a high rating because he can play at 90%, or does he deserve a lower one because he cannot keep keep up that quality of play?

Tell me what you guys think please.
Master Azronger
Master Azronger
Moderator | Champion of the Light
Moderator | Champion of the Light

Best way to measure quality of play? Empty Re: Best way to measure quality of play?

on July 6th 2020, 6:33 am
Several people here are fans of chess, myself included. Not sure why you doubted this.

On topic, I'd say the one thing that also matters immensely is the time period. Modern players have the privilege of studying the games of older masters and the added benefits of engine analyses - they just logically know more about the game. I feel intuition and raw talent - although important - is secondary to theory because if you get into a significantly worse position in the opening, it's going to be exponentially harder to salvage the game against another Super Grandmaster. Even if you argue old players like Morphy or Fischer had a superior intuitive grasp of the game than modern players, they're at an inherent disadvantage against anyone near the top today, and because the gaps in skill are so small anyway, I'd say people like Carlsen and Caruana could be safely assumed to be better players overall. Although my knowledge is very limited so everything I've said could be complete bogus, but that's just what makes the most sense to me.

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lorenzo.r.2nd
lorenzo.r.2nd
Level Two
Level Two

Best way to measure quality of play? Empty Re: Best way to measure quality of play?

on July 6th 2020, 2:19 pm
Azronger wrote:Several people here are fans of chess, myself included. Not sure why you doubted this.

On topic, I'd say the one thing that also matters immensely is the time period. Modern players have the privilege of studying the games of older masters and the added benefits of engine analyses - they just logically know more about the game. I feel intuition and raw talent - although important - is secondary to theory because if you get into a significantly worse position in the opening, it's going to be exponentially harder to salvage the game against another Super Grandmaster. Even if you argue old players like Morphy or Fischer had a superior intuitive grasp of the game than modern players, they're at an inherent disadvantage against anyone near the top today, and because the gaps in skill are so small anyway, I'd say people like Carlsen and Caruana could be safely assumed to be better players overall. Although my knowledge is very limited so everything I've said could be complete bogus, but that's just what makes the most sense to me.
Because nobody ever talks about it. Seems like a valid reason to me, tbh, but it is what it is.

I thought of mentioning that, but some people might simply not have known what theory is, and how it can advance if the game is so old, and how could players pick different openings if some of them are simply better than others, etc etc. For the game analysis part, I simply think that people players are better than others even without it. Magnus, Capablanca, Tal, and Spassky all are known for not studying (ish) the game and simply being good because they are good. Fischer, according to Spassky, did not have said intuition or imagination, but he did play the correct moves more often than other players because he actually studied a LOT, and lived chess. He had focus. He read almost ever Russian book (back then, USSR) he could get his hands and even learned Russian to read the ones that were not translated. Kasparov and Karpov are more of the same. They are huge talents (not like the above mentioned ones, but close) who took the game to the next level because they learned as much as possible about it. 

I actually agree that both Caruana and Carlsen are the top crop, different eras or not. I do not wanna use the word 'feats' here, but it does apply lol. I think hype for the older players out of bias is too ridiculous, and using the 'they didn't have computers back then' argument is also quite weak when we know that Anand had been using AIs even in the late 90s when he still played the best of the best and never at the top, and kept on using them for 20 years more and Carlsen STILL beat him. Maybe Im just bias towards modern players lol.

Sorry I took so long to answer.
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Best way to measure quality of play? Empty Re: Best way to measure quality of play?

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