Chess crisis? What chess crisis?

Many leading players have not been shy about expounding their opinions about either the state of affairs of the opening phase or the effect of the computer compounding the problem. We have quoted Anand above, but among many others: Ljubomir Ljubojevic, Aleksandr Grischuk, Shakhriyah Mamedyarov, Hikaru Nakamura have expressed a variety of concerns. In some cases, this predicament may lead them to suggest chess960 (or Fischer-Random chess, which we will cover below) as a possible solution for the future. Indeed, a less severe state of matters than is the case today was already a motivation for the development of chess960.

It is remarkable, in comparison with other sports or disciplines, that many among the elite practitioners recognize such an unfavourable situation in the way the sport is conducted. The general tone seems to be that of resignation however: seemingly, there is little that can be done about it.

It has been mentioned that one of the bright spots of the state of affairs of the game is the successful extension of its introduction in children education, its expansion as a competitive sport for children and teenagers, and the robust, unabated amateur interest. The spread of children and teenage competitions has been an undoubted success of international and national chess federations.

So some may think that given that the problem we are describing affects only top-level chess or at most its professional levels, which is a small part in quantitative terms (less than a few percent) of the whole chess-playing community, it is not so serious. I am doubtful about this optimistic views. The success of chess is partly based on an emulation effect and on the quantity and quality of the following it provokes on chess spectators. If the top of the game loses lustre, this will be felt in time on the whole chess community and the future of the game itself. Besides, strong amateurs also encounter the problem of the opening phase in a less extreme version than top chess players.

Hence we are led to the title of the present work: it would seem to imply that the future of classical chess is anything but bright. This may seem to disregard the quantitative success in the spread of the sport, the number of players and events etc. However, I believe that concerns about the future of the game is what lies beneath the concerns by top players referred to above.



“Neoclassical Chess: a Bright Future for the Game”, by Gabriel F. Bobadilla

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