I've seen people saying things like "from now on this is just autopilot" or "autopilot from move 20"
Playing on auto-pilot can also happen in the opening, see this article: onlinechesslessons.net/2015/01/21/play-auto-pilot-opening– FateJun 4, 2015 at 6:59
I don't think on autopilot in chess has any other meaning than the dictionary one: idioms.thefreedictionary.com/on+autopilot– Dag Oskar MadsenJun 4, 2015 at 18:21
I think overtheboard is mostly right, especially because your quotes seem to have this gist, but there is another aspect to playing on autopilot in chess, more often referred to as "playing by hand", i.e. without using you head.
If you reach a certain level in chess, in almost all positions a "typical" move represents itself to you, not necessarily the best move, but with high probability a decent move. This phenomenon is closely connected to the term priyome, which refers to standard positional responses and methods, that somebody with a certain amount of chess culture just knows.
So if somebody talks about playing on autopilot or playing by hand, he might just mean choosing natural strong moves without looking deeply into the position. Often this is enough to beat weaker players and it can be done in all kinds of positions, not just in easily winning ones or in forcing lines.
It probably means that the moves from this point forth are forced, obvious, or not easily wrong. For example:
- A promotion race (forced)
- Basic checkmate with a king and queen (obvious)
- An easy win, e.g. up a large amount of material (the moves from this point on are very unlikely to blow the win).
Not a common term in chess.
Playing a position in which the moves are fairly obvious even to a player of average strength,or the plan to follow is a time-honored strategy that ought to be known as part of any player's basic knowledge i.e playing your rook to the only open file and proceeding to advance it to the 7th rank etc(such maneuvers require little to no thought to make) hence "auto-pilot", You'll also often hear phrases like "at this point, the position plays itself". In the opening,tonnes of theoretical positions can be played on auto-pilot as they too do not require any novel approach. Most plans have already been established.