How complex is the game of chess?

How complex is the game of chess?

What is chess? According to the Oxford dictionary “a board game for two players, the object of which is to put the opponent’s king under a direct attack, leading to checkmate”.

In other words chess is a board game in which the main idea is to destroy your opponents army and finally to checkmate the king. If you are completely new to chess I recommend reading Basic Chess Rules: Easy Guide to Learn Chess article first.What makes chess so unique from the rest of the board games is the fact that there are almost infinite number of positions that can arise.

After each player makes just one move there 400 different positions possible! After 2 moves – about 72,000 positions possible. After 3 moves – 9 million. After 4 moves – 288 billion (yes, billion with a “b”) positions can arise on a chess boards. There are about 10^50 legal positions in chess possible! Basically, you’ve got the idea of chess complexity.

This is the path a chess knight has to complete in order to visit every single squre of a chess board just once (on your right).The enormous number of chess positions, combinations and moves makes it a very good “memory” and “calculation” sport. This is one of the reasons why computers perform so greatly on chess scene. Modern chess programs can easily calculate 20 moves ahead, which is almost impossible for human being. How is than humans are able to play against these computer monsters? The answer lays in the difference between computer processor and human brain. Processor just calculated all the variations in certain chess position. Millions of which are just so ridiculously stupid that human player don’t even bother looking at them. But there are maybe about 10 good variations, and 3 great ones. This way computer checks millions and millions of moves to find the one it plays. Human’s brain cannot work the same way since it just does not have enough capacity to carry that many operations in given amount of time. Here is where logic comes into play: human players just do not analyze naturally ridiculous looking moves, saving huge amount of time. Humans only concentrate on certain lines which make sense to them. Sometimes computers afford pays off and machine finds a good move which human overlooked. Is there way to fight the machines? Well, that’s another story

Another feature that differentiates chess from most board games is that the game outcome mostly depends on a player’s skill. In contrast in board games like monopoly rolling the dice plays a major role. This is why chess is not a game of chance. There is such thing in chess as luck. For example if your opponent blunders a queen for nothing on 5th moves, you are most likely to win. But there is no random factor in chess that tells a player where to go like in monopoly-like games. Expert player in chess will win almost all games against a beginner. It means that chess training is the key factor to winning these games.
The more time player dedicate to chess the better he usually plays. Here are some instructions How to Get Better at Chess.

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Updated 04.07.2023


Hello Vasilis, currently the best move idea is based on the strongest chess engine's evaluation (Houdini, etc.). If the engine's strength changes the evaluation follows.
I believe that, in the opening and "early" middle game positions, what we call "the absolute best move", simply, does not exist.. And things will stay this way, until of course, finally, the game of chess been "solved" and a future computer program find a forced win -or loss!- after..let 's say 1e4!.. Till then, no move can be considered "absolutely best" because this depends from the "answer" that will receive. At the end, as someone else put it, "chess is a discussion.." :-)
Kastor Oyle:
I am ASTOUNDED that you said that Monopoly is a game of chance. To play Monopoly well,one must DEFINITELY use strategy, dice or no dice.
Luiz Felipe Rosa:
How about Go ? 19x19 board makes for the second move 260 possibilities!
You are mostly correct that in most even somewhat complex middle games position it is almost impossible to find absolutely the best move on the board. However, in some positions with forced variations or exact theoretical endgames, players can find the single best moves on the board.Ofcourse GMs and Masters make mistakes how else would they lose games?
Magnus Carlsen:
What makes chess difficult or complexed is the amount of ways you can go wrong in any given position. The amount of possible variations is impossible to realise in a single game. No human player is capable of finding the best move in any position, 2nd or 3rd best moves or worse predominate in all games, even at master level, GM's can and do blunder. To improve you must minimise your mistakes, make less errors and you win.
the only way to win at chess is to know your opponents move's before they do but thats not as easy as it sounds