Manny's Reviews > My Best Games Of Chess: 1924 1937

My Best Games Of Chess by Alexander Alekhine
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's review
Jun 09, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: games, the-tragedy-of-chess
Read in January, 1973

Alexander Alekhine was one of the all-time chess greats, and this collection covers the period when he was at his peak, dominating world chess. Almost every serious player of my generation read it several times. The games and commentary were close to being a sacred text.

Like many other chess fans, I was consequently disturbed when I read, sometime in the early 90s, that the English Grandmaster and analyst John Nunn had for the first time subjected the games to computer analysis. He said he had expected maybe to discover a few trivial slips. Instead, he was shocked to find major errors in the analysis of almost every game. Variations which Alekhine had examined in great detail, and claimed to be winning, were in many cases nothing of the kind. There were games everyone knew, in which the conventional wisdom was that Alekhine's opponent had made a tiny mistake early on, and then been squeezed by the World Champion's iron logic, with no possible chance of escape. The emotionless computer, unimpressed by Alekhine's god-like reputation, showed ways in which the apparently inevitable flow of the game could have been interrupted, and Alekhine's opponent could have turned the tables. We had all been victims of an illusion created by excessive respect for someone who was, in fact, just human.

After Nunn's discovery, it was only going to be a matter of time before computers overtook people as the world's best chess players. I wonder whether similar things will eventually happen in other fields. For example, imagine a mechanical literary critic, say fifty to a hundred years from now. It surely wouldn't understand the text as deeply as a person can. But having instant access to the whole of world literature, in all known languages, might give it insights that no human would be able to match. A lot of the time, you'd find quantity winning out over quality.

Well, we will see...

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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Paul (new)

Paul Bryant Could not the modern computer do the same thing to any notator of chess games, from Capablanca to Fisher? (i.e. remorselessly find grievous errors in the logic)... The only thing that disturbed me about Alekhine was to find that he was a Nazi sympathiser and an antisemite.

Manny Nunn found embarrassing mistakes in Capablanca games too (same article). Though, interestingly enough, the famous game against Marshall where Marshall played his gambit for the first time turns out to be almost perfect. In general, though, it turns out that no one escapes.

Manny Emir wrote: "You may be interested to read relevant stuff about human-computer comparative analysis here:"

Sorry... that link didn't work. Could you check it?

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