Sunday, April 10, 2011

Towards Perfecting Advanced Chess

A relatively new mode of social production (i.e. commons-based peer production) is now being used to generate chess opening theory and to extend opening theory deep into the middle game. The result may be a more advanced form of advanced chess.

Advanced chess is a form of competitive chess, popularized by Garry Kasparov, in which at least one human pairs together with at least one computer chess program to form a team. Teams of human + computer then compete against other human + computer teams. Ideally, advanced chess combines the strongest attributes of human chess players with the strongest attributes of computer chess programs. The resulting quality of chess produced by a human/computer advanced chess team is often considered to be superior to that which could have been produced by either a lone human grandmaster or a lone computer program.

While computer chess programs are generally recognized to excel in positions requiring tactical precision, computer programs nevertheless suffer the handicap of having blindness beyond their move horizon. Humans, on the other hand, frequently display superiority in judging positions where strategic insight is crucial. However, humans are demonstrably inferior to computer programs in most tactically complex situations.

The combination of human + computer program produces a chess playing entity which is able to expertly sail through the sea of tactical complications while also anticipating the ocean beyond the computer program’s move horizon.

So, what could possibly produce a higher quality of chess than that produced by a team of humans paired together with the strongest chess programs? The answer may lie simply in the creation of an advanced chess peer-review process.

This advanced chess peer-review process is the foundation upon which the Open Encyclopedia of Chess Openings (OECO) is built. Advanced chess teams (human + computer) analyze chess positions and add the resulting analysis to the OECO wiki. This analysis is public and subject to review by other teams of humans plus computers.

In this way, the OECO brings together a community of human minds, each with its own unique chess perspective, and a variety of computer programs, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, in order to continually and relentlessly iron out all of the wrinkles (i.e. mistakes) of the collective body of existing analysis. Computer analysis guided by human judgment is followed by counter-analysis and counter-judgment in a dialectical process which may ultimately converge upon chess perfection.