19 April 2012

Lasker on Computer Chess

An added bonus in researching old chess magazines for posts like 1889 Steinitz - Chigorin Background is discovering all sorts of material which, although not related to the specific research, is worth pursuing. A case in point is the image on the left, showing 23 year old Emanuel Lasker. I don't believe I'd ever seen it before. It appeared in the April 1892 issue of British Chess Magazine and was accompanied by a summary of his career up to that time. Early info about Lasker is hard to locate and the BCM article leads to earlier mentions of Lasker in the same periodical.

Lasker has always been one of my favorite players and his Manual one of my favorite books. I've returned to it many times since I first became interested in chess and each time I've learned something new. After finding the BCM material on Lasker I reread his chapter on 'Position Play' and was surprised to discover a description of the difference between computer play and human play.

A spirit with a large and roomy brain who without error could keep in mind millions of variations would have no need of planning. Frail, weak man can clearly keep in mind only half a dozen variations since he has but little time to spare for Chess. And if he by chance had more time for it and in addition had genius for the game, to see through hundreds of variations would turn his brain. His reason was not made to be a substitute for a printed table. His mind has a marvellous faculty which enables him to conceive deep and far-sighted plans without being subject to the necessity of examining every possibility.

I took that quote from a full length copy of Lasker's Manual that can be found at xspace.com/kloro. A few years ago I spent a lot of time on a series titled Lasker's Moves that Matter. It was time well spent.

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