57 votes

Why wasn’t Rashid Nezhmetdinov a grandmaster?

Rashid Nezhmetdinov, aka “Super Nezh”, was clearly GM strength, having a plus score in the 20 games he played against World Champions, including a plus score against his friend, Tal. He was also a ...
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  • 31.9k
44 votes
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Why do GMs repeat moves instead of offering a draw?

A repetition giving the opponent the opportunity to claim a draw is a de facto draw offer but not a de jure draw offer. What does that mean? Well the "de facto" part means that in practice ...
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  • 75.7k
40 votes
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How are humans good at chess?

Herbert Simon touched on this question. He received the Turing Award in 1975 and the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1978. His primary research interest was decision-making and is best known for the ...
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  • 3,465
35 votes

How many chess players are over 2500 Elo?

The website 2700chess.com has a database with the FIDE ratings (from May 1st, 2019). Their search form only offers the option to show the top 50 or 100 players satisfying the search results, but it's ...
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  • 23.9k
35 votes

Positional thinking by Grandmasters

When a GM, or even lesser strong players reach a position that is totally unfamiliar, they have to break it down into components. They evaluate the following for BOTH sides. In general, a lot of this ...
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  • 31.9k
34 votes

Was Wolfgang Unzicker the last Amateur GM?

So in the sense of holding down a job while playing he was an "amateur" player. So was Unzicker, a GM in the 70's, the last amateur GM? No. Here are 4 current British "amateur" grandmasters. ...
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  • 75.7k
34 votes

Why do people even play chess?

Where am I wrong? None of "the world's best intellectuals" spend much time playing chess. The only strong (GM strength) chess player who qualifies as an intellectual is Dr John Nunn GM who graduated ...
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  • 75.7k
32 votes
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How often does castling occur in grandmaster games?

If you are prepared to use standard Linux command-line tools like wc and grep then I think my free PGN processor, pgn-extract, will do much of the pre-processing necessary to count games in each ...
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  • 1,551
32 votes
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Why do people even play chess?

Enjoying chess and getting better at it can be viewed as an instrumental good, as well as possibly an intrinsic good. As an instrumental good, chess can help us be better in other areas of life. For ...
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29 votes

How are humans good at chess?

Let's take a conversation. The number of sentences that could be said are infinite. The number of grammatically correct is still infinte, as is the number of logically/conversationally correct would ...
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  • 5,123
28 votes
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What is the average age to become a grandmaster?

Brilliant little data mining project! I used the wiki list of GMs and wrote a quick and dirty script to extract the data. Feel free to use and expand/alter it, if you are interested. As it turns out,...
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  • 3,622
28 votes
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How is the life of a professional GM with ELO around 2500?

I know a few GMs in 2500-2600 range who would be considered professional -> ie chess provides the primary means of earning income for them. It is very hard work with wages not matching the effort/...
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  • 959
25 votes

How are humans good at chess?

Humans try to understand a game like this, to formulate rules, try to recognize patterns of what worked in one position and apply them in positions they consider similar. And it turns out that that ...
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24 votes

How often do grandmasters miss checkmate?

Probably more often than people realize. There have been several notable instances where GMs (even world champions) have missed simple mates in one. From my own experience, when I analyze my games the ...
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  • 4,158
23 votes
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What is the best strategy for an amateur to last as many moves as possible against a GM?

It really depends on what you mean by "lengthen". I am not a GM, but as an "ordinary" Master, I have played 1700s before, who were lost by move 10, but the game still took 50 moves to finish. If you ...
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  • 31.9k
22 votes
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What does it mean to ''analyze grandmaster games''?

I agree with you, more than your coach. Just analyzing a GM game, even with a computer, is not helpful just by itself if you have no idea what is going on. For example, just earlier today, I answered ...
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  • 31.9k
21 votes
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Do any grandmasters win more with black than white?

The short answer Yes, they do, although very few GMs do and by a margin of less than 10%. This does not seem to be due only to random factors (see long answer). An example is GM Joseph Gallagher. As ...
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  • 3,203
21 votes
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Do grandmasters think on every move?

I will try to answer this in a different manner, the way I understand this topic. Do we think on every signal, turn, fork when we drive? Do we think every time we eat food or walk on the street? The ...
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  • 620
19 votes
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In the USA, if you achieve a USCF rating of 2200 and gain the National Master title, what happens if your rating then goes below 2200?

There are actually three different distinctions in the USCF system that have to do with a 2200 rating. First is the National Master title. It is awarded to anyone who has ever had an established (not ...
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  • 7,388
19 votes

Why do GMs repeat moves instead of offering a draw?

In many top level tournaments you are not allowed to offer a draw before a certain number of moves are played (often 30 or 40). The purpose of such a rule is to prevent very quick draws. However, one ...
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  • 2,530
18 votes
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Has any other grandmaster gone as long undefeated like Capablanca?

From this Chess.com Discussion In terms of games played, it would be Tal with 95 games (46 wins, 49 draws) from October 23, 1973 to October 16, 1974. He also has the second longest streak of 84 ...
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  • 1,133
18 votes
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Was Wolfgang Unzicker the last Amateur GM?

The economist Ken Rogoff (b. 1953) achieved the GM title in 1978, but was never a "professional" chess player. Rogoff is currently a professor of economics at Harvard University.
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  • 296
18 votes

How often do grandmasters miss checkmate?

It really depends on what counts as a missed checkmate. In Blitz we occasionally see a missed mate in 1. In slower games, mates in a few moves are rarelly missed. But the problem is that sometimes ...
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  • 13.1k
18 votes
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Famous grandmaster games of "torturous" winning or flaunting out of arrogance?

Are there such examples of torturous winning, where a grandmaster resists his urge to resign and lets the opponent take all of his pieces before he gets checkmated? No, there aren't, for the simple ...
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  • 75.7k
17 votes

Why do people even play chess?

You are wrong because you want to enslave the world's best intellectuals to dedicate their time and effort to tasks that you deem important rather than on what they find enjoyable and fulfilling.
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16 votes

Can playing blindfold chess be learned or is it a natural skill?

It is obviously a learned skill. No-one pops into the world after gestating for 9 months able to play blindfold chess! Just as no-one arrives destined to be an International footballer, genius ...
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  • 397
16 votes

Why is there a craze of becoming chess grandmaster?

The answer has to do with our human psychology. There is a book written by Daniel Pink, titled "Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us", where he finds that people are NOT motivated by ...
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16 votes

Do Grandmasters think using algebraic notation?

I wrote to Dan Heisman to get his take on the question. Here's his reply: “Everyone is a little different. The book is algebraic so others can read and understand it. In practice some just think ...
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  • 1,857
16 votes
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How many steps can a grandmaster foresee?

This depends a lot on the position and cannot be answered generally. If you have a forced line, i.e. a position where there are only few candidate moves at every step, a grandmaster can calculate many ...
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  • 20.4k
16 votes
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Who were the first GMs, and how did they become GMs?

In order to qualify for the title of Grandmaster, a player must achieve three Grandmaster norms. That is not accurate. The regulations for the award of FIDE titles are given here. There are two ...
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