It was the Chess Informant who gave us "∞ - position unclear" (as we all know, a position can only be won, lost or drawn. Now that we have super-strong computers, I expect that ∞ will slowly wither away...or is Chess so complex that we still have "∞ - only on a higher level"?

I doubt that question is answerable here, so a cheap proxy: Has the use of ∞ in the Chess Informant gone down over time? (Including positions that were rerated in later issues.) Note that later C.I. come as pdf, so counting can be automated.

  • Unclear can also mean for a human who isn't a calculating machine
    – qwr
    Commented May 19 at 15:41

2 Answers 2


Computers have expanded our ability to analyze chess positions, but they're far from outdating the use of "unclear". There are plenty of positions where you'll get contradictory evaluations depending of which engine you use and the machine on which you run it. Those positions are candidates to deserve the ∞ sign in "automated" analysis.

However, all engines can give us is their best guess to an evaluation number. Engines that calculate the "sharpness" of a position exist, but they're not commonly used. It's getting more and more common to have engines as a replacement for analysis rather than as a tool to assist it (which is it's original purpose).

That's lazy analysis though. Sometimes, humans will just blindly trust the output from the one engine they're using and assign a final "+-" symbol to a position where the engine claims it's +2, even though deeper analysis would disagree.


I will continue to use "unclear".

"Unclear" is a description of an experience. I feel this position is unclear. I can and do feel this way after analyzing with a computer sometimes.

I have never worked through as deep an analysis as the first position in Dvoretsky's Analytical Manual: Practical Training for the Ambitious Chessplayer That may be the least clear position I have ever experienced.

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