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22-Year-Old Norwegian Magnus Carlsen Is the New World Chess Champion 131

Posted by Soulskill
from the awarded-lifetime-supply-of-pawns dept.
ardmhacha writes "Magnus Carlsen was able to force a draw in the 10th game of the World Chess Championship to claim the title with a 6.5 — 3.5 score (3 wins, 0 losses, 7 draws) over Viswanathan Anand. Carlsen became the youngest ever World No. 1 in 2010, but withdrew from the 2012 championship cycle and so has only now been able to add the World Champion title to his No. 1 ranking. He won three games and lost none. His first two victories came when he was able to convert small advantages in the endgame into wins. The third (in game 9) came after a blunder from Anand."
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22-Year-Old Norwegian Magnus Carlsen Is the New World Chess Champion

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's about time chess had some DISRUPTION!
    • What kind of disruption? Carlsen has been World #1 since Jan 2010. He hit the highest ELO rating in the history of chess also in Jan 2010. He is also 100 points ahead of the current #2 - Kramnik. He didn't even competer in the World Championship last year when Anand defended his title against the World #20.

  • What happens when Magnus plays the strongest computers? Can he win? What computers can he beat?

    • by bunratty (545641) on Friday November 22, 2013 @11:29AM (#45491215)
      It's been more than fifteen years since Deep Blue beat Kasparov. Certainly humans don't stand a chance against modern chess software and hardware.
      • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Friday November 22, 2013 @11:37AM (#45491299)

        Computers have moved on to more intellectually challenging games . . . like Jeopardy.

        I wonder how Watson would do playing "Wheel of Fortune" or "The Price is Right" . . . ?

        . . . and a "Computer Family Feud" . . . priceless!

        "The Raspberry Pie was the first to hit the buzzer, before the iPad!"

        • by bunratty (545641)
          Watson would fail miserably, because it wasn't designed for those games. It's like asking how Deep Blue would do at checkers. It doesn't play checkers. It plays chess.
          • He did say "moved on" to other games. I took it to mean "How would a properly prepared Watson do at those games?"

            • by bunratty (545641)

              Well, a "properly prepared" Watson wouldn't be Watson any more. The games Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, and The Price is Right have little in common in terms of the type of algorithm and program needed. Jeopardy is about looking up relatively common factual information, Wheel of Fortune is about guessing phrases, and The Price is Right is about estimating prices -- all worlds apart when it comes to which algorithms would be used.

              I suppose the point is that even our most "intelligent" programs and computers ar

              • Except that the Watson programmed to diagnose diseases [ibm.com] is still called Watson. A Watson programmed to guess prices would still carry the brand name "Watson."

                • by bunratty (545641)
                  My understanding is that to diagnose diseases, all they needed to do to Watson was change the front end and the database it was using. If it is true that a similar change could get Watson to guess prices, then we could say Watson could play The Price is Right. But I don't think there's any connection between looking up facts in a database to answer questions and estimating prices. Do you have an argument that would suggest a simple change to Watson could get it to estimate the price of an item that it can s
        • I would suspect that a computer much less powerful than Watson could be unbeatable at Wheel of Fortune. The Price is Right might be interesting--you could feed it tons of data about retail prices and not get everything. Could it extrapolate the price of one particular brand of cough drops or dishwasher from other similar products it already knows?

        • Computers have moved on to more intellectually challenging games . . . like Jeopardy.

          Don't forget [cafemom.com] Rock, Paper, Scissors [wikia.com].

      • by bitt3n (941736) on Friday November 22, 2013 @12:25PM (#45491901)

        It's been more than fifteen years since Deep Blue beat Kasparov. Certainly humans don't stand a chance against modern chess software and hardware.

        Nonsense. As Kurt Russell demonstrated in The Thing, it is possible for even a very bad player to absolutely destroy a seemingly unbeatable chess computer, as long as you're drunk enough to quell any tendency toward impulse control.

      • by Kjella (173770)

        At the time, Deep Blue was the 259th most powerful supercomputer in the world with special purpose chess chips, a regular desktop today would be strong but not that ridiculously much stronger. I read an article recently from the creator where he guessed seven losses and three draws in ten games. But if you really wanted to you could always build a similar supercomputer (168.1 TFlops vs 11.38 GFlops) that'd be 10000 times more powerful just to make really, really sure.

        • by Anonymous Coward
          For some time you've been able to buy FPGA expansion cards for a desktop computer that have been programmed to be chess specific CPUs. I haven't looked into this in years, and would assume some advancement has been made there. They were expensive, but within reach if you really cared about playing computer chess and were too good for most basic software.
        • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Friday November 22, 2013 @12:43PM (#45492095)

          At the time, Deep Blue was the 259th most powerful supercomputer in the world with special purpose chess chips, a regular desktop today would be strong but not that ridiculously much stronger.

          That is true, but software has also improved. We have better chess algorithms (especially pruning algorithms). But, even more importantly, we have better databases of previous games, and opening moves. Playing good chess has less to do with thinking, and more to do with remembering, than most people realize.

          • by teg (97890)

            At the time, Deep Blue was the 259th most powerful supercomputer in the world with special purpose chess chips, a regular desktop today would be strong but not that ridiculously much stronger.

            That is true, but software has also improved. We have better chess algorithms (especially pruning algorithms). But, even more importantly, we have better databases of previous games, and opening moves. Playing good chess has less to do with thinking, and more to do with remembering, than most people realize.

            The new world champion is an interesting deviation here. The previous world champions have relied on extensive preparation - a main part of which is going through existing opening theory and finding weaknesses of the opponent, plus "new theory" - new ideas or moves from previously played opening positions. In some cases, these variations can go on for many moves - and a surprise there can topple an opponent. This requires extensive preparation and a requires a lot of memorisation.

            Magnus Carlsen's tradem

        • by Anonymous Coward

          As someone else posted below, the chess software has gotten ridiculously better.

          Houdini 3 running on a 4 CPU desktop would likely crush Kasparov or Carlsen today.

          • by zarr (724629) on Friday November 22, 2013 @02:37PM (#45493277)
            I was watching a live stream of the match, which also showed the next moves suggested by Houdini. Interestingly both players were pretty consistent in selecting the highest ranked moves. The exceptions were the "blunders" which lead to Anand's defeat.
            • by teg (97890)

              I was watching a live stream of the match, which also showed the next moves suggested by Houdini. Interestingly both players were pretty consistent in selecting the highest ranked moves. The exceptions were the "blunders" which lead to Anand's defeat.

              Actually, while they often selected the best move, they also often selected a lower ranked possibility - e.g. 3 - 4. A computer won't do that. However, a computer won't blunder the way they did either. You can come quite far in chess if you never do a move that is shown to be a huge mistake in e.g. 5 moves for each side...

        • by alexo (9335)

          At the time, Deep Blue was the 259th most powerful supercomputer in the world with special purpose chess chips, a regular desktop today would be strong but not that ridiculously much stronger.

          I disagree [lukeprog.com].
          More current ELO ratings here [tcec-chess.net].

      • Lol. I didn't stand a chance against Sargon III back in the day. Good for this guy!

      • by RedHackTea (2779623) on Friday November 22, 2013 @01:14PM (#45492429)
        What's interesting about that game that a lot spectators don't realize:
        1. Before the match, the computer (and computer programmers) analyzed all of the historical games by Kasparov and his most favored openings; any human at the level of Kasparov will have a very long footprint of history, while Kasparov didn't have any historical games of the computer to look at and to analyze
        2. Both matches (1996 & 1997) ended after 6 games with the computer only winning by a 1-2 points, even without #1
        3. "The rules provided for the developers to modify the program between games, an opportunity they said they used to shore up weaknesses in the computer's play that were revealed during the course of the match. Kasparov requested printouts of the machine's log files but IBM refused, although the company later published the logs on the Internet" (wikipedia Deep Blue page). I don't think this should have been allowed; the software should be true AI and learning without assistance
        4. "Kasparov demanded a rematch, but IBM refused and dismantled Deep Blue." (wikipedia Deep Blue page) Kasparov and others never had another chance to beat it, after finally having a small history of games to analyze its playing style.

        However, despite this, I think that a computer will most likely still reign supreme, but to be completely fair, I think it would require a history of games for the opponent to analyze and no human intervention during the match. However, the programmers can add in a "learning" module of some sort that analyzes each game afterwards, but no human intervention (e.g., programmers tweaking lines of code) is allowed during the match of games -- only before or after.

        And on a related note, my main gripe with Watson was the physical responsiveness. There were times when the human hand reaction time could just not match the computer physically.

        I would like to see a computer play blitz games against a world champion, as long as my gripe with Watson is ensured that they can't move physically faster than a human's reaction time.
        • by arcade (16638) on Friday November 22, 2013 @02:14PM (#45493049) Homepage

          The computer would not need a history of games of the opponents.

          Computer chess has moved so far ahead of human players that Carlsen would have been utterly destroyed. These days, spectators watch the game with chess computers on the side, since the chess computers can tell properly which player is ahead, while spectators wouldn't be able to tell properly.

          Chess engines such as Houdini, Stockfish and a variety of others have ratings well above 3100. Carlsen has a rating of 2872. He would be crushed.

          • by RedHackTea (2779623) on Friday November 22, 2013 @05:20PM (#45495225)

            utterly destroyed

            I would say easily beaten in a match, but definitely not utterly destroyed. In 2003, Kasparov drew with X3D Fritz. In 2006, Kramnik was beaten 4-2. Grandmasters still have draws and sometimes wins; that is not utterly destroyed IMO. I think utterly destroyed would be straight wins with 0 points. I'm also curious about different timing (e.g., 10 minute games) and chess variations (e.g., Fischerrandom/Chess960 and Capablanca chess).

            ratings well above 3100

            Computer chess ratings aren't accurate for computers (as they're banned from tournaments and humans progress from bad to the best so hard to push rating beyond 3000). 3100+, when translated, simply means a bit better than Carlsen, but we have no idea about its true rating. During the 1st 9 matches, all chess engines gave every move by Carlsen a sub-optimal (meaning there are many branches that could lead to optimal, but can't go enough plys/levels deep to determine) to optimal rating. The 10th match had the only bad move by Carlsen that I remember. I don't think Carlsen would be utterly destroyed against a "3100" elo rated chess engine, but probably beaten 3 to 2&1/2.

            • Perhaps that's one reason why Bobby Fischer remains so fascinating. Fischer DID utterly destroy opponents on the way to the chess championship. He won the Interzonal tournament by 3.5 points (a HUGE margin for such a strong tournament) and followed that by 6-0 defeats of Mark Taimanov and Bent Larssen. Next was a 6.5-2.5 defeat of Tigran Petrosian, a bulldog of a player who was notoriously difficult to score a full point on. Finally, he won the championship match against Spassky by a 12.5-8.5 score, despite

      • by Anonymous Coward

        He was asked if he wanted to play against Houdini (http://www.houdinichess.com/) and stated that he could think of other ways of making himself look like an idiot.

        Houdini seems like a pretty neat program, it runs on a single machine (Windows) and has been given a rating of about ~3200.

        Comparing Houdini and Deep blue shows how far computing has come. Deep blue ran on custom hardware to optimize it for chess, while Houdini only needs Windows, 64-bit with 8 cores (Not sure about them Ghz though).

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pellik (193063)
      The strength of computers at chess is a bit of a complicated subject. Chess computers are really only very good at one thing (calculation), while the bulk of the program is there to cover up the weaknesses (everything else) as best as possible. When you see a human vs computer match the majority of the heavy hitting is really just the computer selecting moves from a database of human games, relying on human strategy, to carry it through hopefully to a winning position. However while all this is happening it
    • by jez9999 (618189)

      Computer engines like Stockfish win, hands down. In fact I was running Stockfish analysis alongside some of the games and within seconds it had identified bad moves, like when Anand failed to take a pawn, or when he moved a rook instead of a pawn that allowed Carlsen to win instead of draw. Deep Blue was on the erge of being better than humans - 10 years later, chess engines are miles better than humans.

  • That's pretty old; how many FLOPS?

    :p

  • News for Nerds (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dysmal (3361085) on Friday November 22, 2013 @11:27AM (#45491187)
    FINALLY!!! I was wondering if that was possible anymore.
  • His birthday is in a week.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Who are you, his mom?

  • by ardmhacha (192482) on Friday November 22, 2013 @11:46AM (#45491407)

    I realize that they have to make money, but I find the sponsor logos on their jackets rather tacky.

    • by sjbe (173966)

      I realize that they have to make money, but I find the sponsor logos on their jackets rather tacky.

      What do you propose as an alternative from up there on your high horse? If you've got a better idea, let's hear it.

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Whether or not a better solution exists has nothing to do with whether or not the chosen solution is good. Nice non sequitur.

      • high horse?

        Who are you, a marketing rep for Quilted Northern?

    • by bitt3n (941736) on Friday November 22, 2013 @12:47PM (#45492147)

      I realize that they have to make money, but I find the sponsor logos on their jackets rather tacky.

      I guess you won't like Carlsen's new television advertisement for adult incontinence diapers: "For an impenetrable defense."

  • Why chess? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BringsApples (3418089) on Friday November 22, 2013 @11:48AM (#45491433)
    From another article:

    Some time around the seventh century, a new board game appears in India. Its pieces include a counsellor, elephants, chariots, infantrymen, horsemen and a king. Called chaturanga, it's the ancestor of modern chess - and a game of war. But if chess in all its variations has been used historically to illustrate battlefield tactics and probe new strategies, today nothing's changed. Teams at the Swedish national defence college in Stockholm and the defence science and technology organisation in Australia are studying the game afresh in an attempt to understand better how to gain military success. In Sweden, the researchers are using real players. In Australia, the team has run tens of thousands of virtual games - with some clear messages for their military sponsors.

    On the face of it, the bloodless, low-tech game of chess might seem to bear little resemblance to modern warfare. "But it resembles real war in many respects," maintains Jan Kuylenstierna, one of the Swedish researchers. "Chess involves a struggle of will, and it contains what has been termed the essentials of fighting - to strike, to move and to protect." By studying chess and other adversarial abstract games such as checkers (draughts), researchers can strip away some of the confusion of the battlefield and identify the factors that are most important for winning, says Jason Scholz, who leads the Australian work. "The strength of this approach is our level of abstraction," Scholz says.

    Imagine chess replacing actual war.

    • by Zordak (123132)

      Imagine chess replacing actual war.

      You mean like this [wikipedia.org]?

    • by sjbe (173966)

      Imagine chess replacing actual war.

      Imagine unicorns playing leapfrog. Roughly the same likelihood of actually occurring.

    • by Rande (255599)

      Imagine chess replacing actual war.

      We'd use drones then too.
      The BAU would be scanning eye movements and microgestures of the opponent.
      The NSA generate a mental model simulating the opponent.
      The CIA would drug the opponent and kidnap his family.
      The TSA would anally probe them entering the country.
      And NASA would move the board to the moon. ...actually, that last one wouldn't be a bad thing.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Just wrong. War haven't been won by battlefield strategy for over a century.
      All modern warfare is won by bringing more 'pieces to the game' than your opponent. A stronger economy before the war and a stronger production during the war makes you the winner.
      In that regard modern computerized strategy games are more accurate.

    • "The Player of Games" by Ian M Banks imagines a similar scenario to this, it's actually not a bad book.
  • The only thing we Indians we were good in besides IT and today we got beat. Alright who wants their servers fixed.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Ah, don't reduce your culture to such mundane things - you'll always have Chicken Vindaloo!

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by larry bagina (561269)
      Ohh, come on. You're also pretty good at rape.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The only thing we Indians we were good in besides IT

      I have some more bad news for you...

  • by Wargames (91725) on Friday November 22, 2013 @12:11PM (#45491731) Journal

    In that ending, the only side that had winning chances was the side with the pawns. Magnus was playing for the win.

  • by juletre (739996) on Friday November 22, 2013 @12:55PM (#45492263)
    Here in Norway everyone has followed the game online instead of doing actual work. DNB, our largest bank, had to block access to the live coverage. Almost everyone streamed the game making their network slow and it made real work difficult.

    (Norwegian source: http://e24.no/media/dnb-maatte-stenge-tilgangen-til-sjakk-vm/22641053 [e24.no])
  • by microTodd (240390) on Friday November 22, 2013 @01:09PM (#45492389) Homepage Journal

    I read the articles and am kind of a novice chess player but I can't figure out what this "huge blunder" that Vishy made? He was playing white and didn't respond properly to an attack from black? This would be huge, right? Isn't it typically when playing white you play to win and black you play to draw (that one-move advantage is huge)? So the fact that Carlsen got a win as Black was huge, right?

    Can someone explain the details of the mistake to me? The commentators and commenters all make it seem obvious but I can't tell what's going on.

    I've always wanted to be good at chess (I equate it to being "smart") but I've never been able to be very good at it.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Nf1 iirc game 9 was a huge blunder, allowed newly promoted queen to trade for Anands rook and halting mate threat.

      bf1 would have saved the attack maintaining a slight material advantage for Carlsen

      • by Wargames (91725)

        The players were interviewed after the game. The "blunder" was discussed. My impression was (from what both Anand and Carlsen said in the interview) was that the natural move Bf1 was insufficient, so without much consideration Anand chose the alternative Nf1. Since he did analyze Bf1 as insufficient, and Nf1 was the only alternative, and time on his clock is a factor this IMHO is not a blunder. There were only two moves in the position, Nf1 and Bf1. After Nf1, the game is lost for white, even against a f

    • by RedHackTea (2779623) on Friday November 22, 2013 @01:41PM (#45492703)

      Isn't it typically when playing white you play to win and black you play to draw (that one-move advantage is huge)? So the fact that Carlsen got a win as Black was huge, right?

      With grandmasters, it's said that there is a slight advantage too white, but it's still not huge. It's still theoretical, and I don't think black is that bad off IMO.

      Can someone explain the details of the mistake to me?

      Are you talking about game 9? Well, essentially at the blunder point, black has 2 queens. With the blunder knight move by Anand, Carlsen then moves to Qe1. Now, when Anand moves Rh4 threating mate, Carlsen can simply trade the queen for the rook. Now Carlsen will be up by a rook (~5 points). This is a huge advantage and no way for Anand to win, as his mating opportunity is now completely lost.

      I've always wanted to be good at chess (I equate it to being "smart") but I've never been able to be very good at it.

      The Polgar's have some good books. Study middlegame and endgame puzzles. Play a lot of games online. Most people think that fast games and overuse of computer analysis weakens your play, so play long games when you can and use computers analysis sparingly. Also, study historical games by masters (see if you can predict the next move). As far as openings, as a beginner, just pick a solid line for white (I suggest pawn d4) and a simple response for black from white's pawn e4/d4. The more games and puzzles you do, the better you will be. Play in local tournaments to keep your motivation up or join a club. Eventually, buy a book on openings or even start studying unorthodox/irregular openings (as they're a lot of fun and it rattles people); Nc3 (dunst opening) is usually regarded as the strongest irregular opening.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm no great shakes as a chess player but we are in good company as Gary Kasparov asked the commentating grandmasters not to call these moves "blunders" as they are made by two of the very best players. Carlsen is famous for exploiting small inaccuarcies by his opponents, so maybe "inaccuracy" rather than "blunder"?

      regards, RSleepy.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I agree with the sentiment, but this was a blunder if there ever was one. The game immediately went from an even position to a lost one. iirc Anand was under severe time pressure when he made this move.

    • by thue (121682)
  • by StripedCow (776465) on Friday November 22, 2013 @01:12PM (#45492407)

    They're chess grandmasters, but they are still not able to deduce that "beating" is not necessarily a mathematical total order.

    • Or maybe they don't care whether it's a total order or not, because they have things like Elo ratings to approximate that in real time.

      It so happens that Carlssen has been absolutely destroying the Elo classification for years now. Fun fact: the gap between Magnus Carlssen and number 2 on the FIDE list (Levon Aronian) is equal to the gap between number 2 and number 20! (Source: http://ratings.fide.com/top.phtml?list=men [fide.com] )

      What a Championship gives you is "the man who beat the man". It's more a honorary title

      • I think the point that was being raised is that when you have different metrics of what constitutes "best"--e.g., "who is has the highest Elo rating" versus "who is the most recent winner of the world championship match," then it is possible (as was the case until just recently) that the answers to these questions could be two different people.

        Personally, from all the evidence I've seen of various chess games played in recent times, I think it's fairly safe to say that Magnus Carlsen is the highest-performi

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      They're chess grandmasters, but they are still not able to deduce that "beating" is not necessarily a mathematical total order.

      True, but in this case it doesn't really matter much:
      1. The World Championship match is always a fairly long affair, enough time for the law of averages to take hold.
      2. Magnus Carlsen is the highest-rated player in the world right now, which means that over his recent tournament play he is in fact the best there is.
      3. To get to play for the World Championship, you have to win the candidate's tournament. Yes, it's theoretically possible for the not-best player to win the tournament, but it's very unlikely th

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I fired up Twitch looking for something good to listen to when I saw Chess on the front page. With 15,000 viewers! Not sure what was really happening, I clicked in and got to see the final 30 minutes of the last game.

    I know chess rules but, like Hold'em, I can't actually play worth a spit against skill. Even still, Jerry's commentary and what-if's on the mini-board, along with viewer strategems I had a blast!

    Grats, Magnus!
  • In related news... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    ... TCEC 2013 [wikipedia.org], sort of a computer Chess World Championship has end its 4th round [chessdom.com]. The winner of the previous stages is an open source engine: Stockfish [stockfishchess.org], and it will play the Superfinal (48 games) against the second player: Komodo. The winner of previous years, Houdini, ended in third place.

  • Two stories involving Norway on the Slashdot home page at the same time.

  • Is it me or in some shots does Magnus Carlsen bear a striking resemblance to Todd Alquist (Jesse Plemons)? When I first saw a few pictures I thought uncle Jack secured his victory by paying Anand's family a visit.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Anand certainly wasn't on form, and is aging, but I can see him still coming back next year. (And good job Carlsen!)

    And what a finish to the Championship, the players actually playing out the reduction to King versus King.

    By the way: Wherever you live, it's likely your local chess club would like you to drop in for a game (or to learn.) You don't have to be a Grandmaster to enjoy over the board chess.

  • Chess is cool. Case closed.
  • Unlike http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sachin_Tendulkar [wikipedia.org] in India, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viswanathan_Anand [wikipedia.org] should voluntarily/gracefully retire from chess and pass on the baton to younger generation.
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