Are AlphaZero's openings objectively better than the others? If so, why haven't top grandmasters like Carlsen exclusively adopted them in their own games?

  • 1
    What do you mean by "objectively better"? Chess is not solved yet after all, not even close. Better evaluations by classical engines? Better average results? Easier to handle?
    – Annatar
    Mar 20, 2019 at 8:39
  • 1
    Possible duplicate of List of how AlphaZero evaluates openings
    – Ellie
    Mar 20, 2019 at 10:43
  • So many openings are playable. Fortunately, no one knows which is best. You might think that an AI analysis would settle such questions but, happily, the AI analysis does not settle them—though few would deny that the AI's results are interesting. One of the great things about chess is that, later during a game, the game is less and less forgiving of an inaccurate move; but early in the game there are so many playable choices. One player can play Caro-Kann, say; another can play Dutch. Both can earn good results, typically in different ways. Chess is just balanced like that.
    – thb
    Mar 20, 2019 at 20:26

2 Answers 2


Are AlphaZero's openings objectively better than the others?

Not easy to answer. I try: You can not say the openings are "objectively" better because you can not compare openings really "objectively" since chess is not "solved". But you can compare the situations after the opening. which player has a better position after the opening etc.? (Admitted: This is obviously also not 100% objectively answerable, but you can analyse it anyway.)

If that is not enough for you you can compare the entire game results (but then you lose focus on the openings unfortunately): AlphaZero can play chess very very well. So all in all (opening + middlegame + endgame) you can probably say AlphaZero can play better than many other chess-engines. This is a strong clue that also the openings of AlphaZero are slightly better.

Why haven't top grandmasters like Carlsen exclusively adopted them in their own games?

Because it is not enough to memorize an opening from an chess engine. You must really understand the openings from AlphaZero if you want to adopt them in your own games.

It worth nothing when you play a "perfect opening" (adopted from AlphaZero) and then your opponent does one unexpected move and then you do not know how to continue playing and you do not know which move AlphaZero would prefer in this new situation.


I guess they suit more his style, he plays open position and he's not afraid of sacrificing material for activity because he has better assessment when it comes to sharp open positions. However some openings like This French Defense Classical variation with 6. h4 proved to be very hard for A0 because it's already in defense mode and for black (in the game above) to achieve equality he should defend fiercely and precisely for quite some time.

My take on this is that every player uses openings that suits best his playing style, some goes for open games because they feel more comfortable with piece activity and the variety of options (A0 style), others with closed games that need a strong defense technique (like some games of Stockfish A0 follows his gut but it didn't work out)

  • When you say "his style", are you referring to Carlsen or A0?
    – Siddhartha
    Mar 20, 2019 at 9:51
  • I meant A0, I should've said "it's style" :). Carlsen, as well, have an attacking style like A0 but I would say not with same boldness
    – MrMaxPayne
    Mar 20, 2019 at 10:24

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