# Is chess a futile game?

1. Feb 9, 2006

Is chess a futile game?

2. Feb 9, 2006

### arildno

Nope, the answer is, in fact, 42.

3. Feb 9, 2006

### matt grime

Define futile for us.

4. Feb 9, 2006

### arildno

(or, at least, we don't know if it is).

5. Feb 9, 2006

Futile game = game that always results in a draw if all players play properly. Kinda like tic-tac-toe. I was wondering if chess was the same.

:rofl: I knew it.

6. Feb 9, 2006

### Tzar

The question you ask is a good one. I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about it, and well got almost nowhere. I believe that the fact that white goes first does give white some advantage. Statistically speaking I think white wins slightly more often. So I belive that if white plays "perfectly" then black is bound to lose. I ofcourse have no proof of this, this is just an opinion. I think the only way to check that I'm right or wrong is by going through all possbile combinations, where white plays the "best" move and seeing what happens to differnt responses from black. Of course finding the "best" move isnt easy, so a few different combinations will have to be tried each time. However, This will WAY to long even for the fastest computers.

7. Feb 9, 2006

### Tide

That depends on what you mean by "properly." I think you're being somewhat circular by implying that "properly" equates to "stalemate."

8. Feb 9, 2006

Properly does equate to stalemate in some games, such as tic-tac-toe.

9. Feb 9, 2006

### neurocomp2003

draw out the strategy tree and find out...might take you several pieces of paper or you could code it. I doubt white has an advantage given the # of permutations a board could have at the start phase of a game.

10. Feb 10, 2006

### Useful nucleus

The modern players of chess always think of their rating and afraid of loss, so a lot of games nowadays end with draw by agreement. But in the past, untill 1950's, The players were more enthusiatic and they played to win only and draw by agreement was so rare .
the best move in chess is something relative. Some players make very good sacrifices in the game which , by human mind, are regarded as great moves. When analyzing these moves by computer engines, the engine regard these moves as bad moves.so the game depends mainly on the sense of players and my opinion there is no " PERFECT MOVE",i.e., any move coul be to some extent good and to another extent bad.

11. Feb 10, 2006

### quasar987

For the anecdote:

Draws by agreement were indeed more rare, but they were quite common amongst the players of the soviet union. In fact, young Bobby Fisher once throwed a tantrum about it and left the qualification cycle for the place of challenger to the world champion (Botvinik at that time), accusing the ruskies of cheating.

The fact that white plays first give them a slight initiative. This is recognized by the chess players as an advantage, and reading the analysis of Grand Masters (GM) about a game, you'll encounter at some point in the game, probably around the 12th move or so, the commetary "Black has equalized", meaning the slight advantage of white has disapeared. However, even if black never quite equalizes, it is believed by GMs that this slight advantage of white is insufficient to win.

Last edited: Feb 10, 2006
12. Feb 10, 2006

### HallsofIvy

Indeed, the FIDE established a rule that players could NOT agree to a draw until they had played at least 30 moves each in order to placate Fisher. During the next championship round, Fisher himself offered a draw after only 10 moves! When he was told he couldn't do that, Fisher protested "that rule is for the Russians, not me!"

13. Feb 10, 2006

### vaishakh

I have something to say here. An indian book for undergrad physics starts with such an explanation. The name of the book is concepts of physics by H C Verma. I will try to say a bit of what he mean.
He starts the book with the explanation of basic idea of physics. He says that the scientist's mind is like a good chess player. He tries to make more and more perfect guesses seeing or observing the surounding. But how much perfect is it depends on how much experienced he is. When we once start seeing chess games played between two players without knowing the rules, after a lot of games we slowly understand mmany rules by guessing at instants and then neglecting the once which are wrong when we see the opposite thing happenning. And thus soon we start getting more and more accustomed with the rules. So a perfect move in chess is very difficult to guess.

14. Feb 10, 2006

### JasonRox

Now, this is just the opinion of the author and how he visualizes how physics is done. That doesn't imply that it's useless.

I don't think Albert Einstein had lots of experience when he made his "perfect move".

Last edited: Feb 10, 2006
15. Feb 10, 2006

### Leonardo Sidis

My opinion is that chess is not a futile game because a "perfect" game cannot be played. As someone posted above, there is no perfect move, because the strength of a move is largely dependent on so many factors, especially in OTB games. Thus, there cannot be a perfect game. Some openings such as Alekhines Defense laugh at whites pawn center after e4, Nf6, e5, Nd5, c4, etc. in hopes that whites over-extended pawn structure becomes weak. Others focus on the pawn structure in the center and consider that the most important thing to establish in the opening. Even world-renowned grandmasters may disagree about which openings are better because they have had different experiences and have different opinions.

I'm curious, does anybody have a USCF rating in here? Mine's 1429.

16. Feb 10, 2006

### Hurkyl

Staff Emeritus
Chess is a deterministic, turn-based game of complete information. Thus, it can (in principle) be completely analyzed with game theory, and it could be classified into one of three cases:

(1) White has a strategy with which he will always win.
(2) Black has a strategy with which he will always win.
(3) Both players have a strategy with which they will never lose.

The only problem is that we don't yet have enough theoretical and computational power to figure out which case is correct.

Last edited: Feb 10, 2006
17. Feb 11, 2006

That's what I wanted to know. Thanks.

18. Feb 11, 2006

### kahless2005

Define perfect...

Chess is on a 10x10 board with the moves designed so that there is a possible counter. So technically, if both players play their best and are able to counter each other's moves, then yes it will end in a draw. Yet at the highest levels of play, draws are rare.

19. Feb 11, 2006

### Hurkyl

Staff Emeritus
8x8.

If you have a proof that perfectly played chess will end in a draw, then please share. Otherwise, let me refer you to my previous post. :grumpy:

20. Feb 11, 2006

### George Jones

Staff Emeritus
And we'll never have enough.

I seem to remember reading in Scientific American about 10 or 15 years ago (around the time of either Deep Thought or Deep Blue) that the number of possible chess games is about the same as the number of particles in the universe.

Regards,
George