Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Final Theory of Chess Project

TheFinalTheoryofChessLast year I heard about a big book called The Final Theory of Chess. It worried me a little. At my age, any mention of "final" tends to do that. But more than that, the idea that anything as complicated as chess could have a final theory didn't seem to make much sense to me. For a long time my own working theory of chess has been covered by one of Tartakower’s many witticisms: "Chess is a fairy tale of 1001 blunders."

But I was intrigued and contacted the author of The Final Theory, Gary M. Danelishen, with an offer to enter an exchange sacrifice—his big book for one of my little books. And what a big book it turned out to be. Almost 400 pages, 8.5 by 11.5 inches, crammed with four years of analysis by up to six computers running Fritz software around the clock. What made the book of special interest to me was that over 100 of those pages were devoted to analysis of the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit.

If I had my druthers, the book might have been better called Toward a Final Theory... or maybe In Search of a Final Theory... or, well, you get the idea. Danelishen doesn’t suggest that we’re there yet; his concept is to expand opening theory and analysis upward over time. All the while tablebases (but not in his analysis) will be expanded downward, and someday they will intersect in a glorious union, maybe like the joining of the transcontinental railroad, and lo, we will in fact have achieved the final theory!

I’m much too lazy these days, and even if I had the energy, I couldn’t do justice to this book. Nor should I even try, since Rick Kennedy, as is his practice, has done another excellent, thorough review at Chessville Reviews. I recommend you read it there.

Meanwhile, Danelishen is pressing on. He has established a Final Theory of Chess Project website, in a wiki format, open to all to extend opening theory. As Gary explains:
The Final Theory of Chess wiki, based upon the book with the same name, is an attempt to construct an aggressive opening repertoire based primarily upon the use of computer analysis. Computer analysis has been built upon previous computer analysis, in a process repeated seemingly ad infinitum.

The ultimate goal is to push opening theory through the middlegame and finally to a point where endgame tablebases can solve for mate. The Final Theory of Chess lays a solid foundation upon which further computer analysis may be built in order to solve the game of chess.
It’s an interesting concept, and a chance to share ideas on as broad or fine a scale as you wish. Take a look at it. I suggest you start at the front door. You can also jump right to the BDG variations.