19 Jul 2022

International Chess Day 2022 Special - Artificial Intelligence Takes Over The Royal Game

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Chess is a popular game of strategy and planning that undoubtedly needs no introduction. However, The International Chess Day is celebrated every year on 20th July as a day that came up as an idea by the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization). Those who love Chess, celebrate this day each year, which has now become a tradition that dates back to more than 50 years.

As we live in a modern, highly advanced age where Artificial Intellegence is used in almost everything to ease the work, it has also entered the territory of Chess, learning the highly strategic game and becoming capable of beating even the Chess Grandmasters of the world.

History Of Chess

An old pencil sketch of 2 men from olden days playing chess

Chess first appeared in India around the 6th century AD and by the 10th century, had spread from Asia to the Middle East and Europe. Since at least the 15th century, chess has been known as the “Royal Game” because of its popularity among the nobility. Rules and set design slowly evolved until both reached today’s standard in the early 19th century. 

Once an intellectual diversion favoured by the upper classes, chess went through an explosive growth in interest during the 20th century as professional and state-sponsored players competed for an officially recognized world championship title and increasingly lucrative tournament prizes. 

Sponsored and hosted chess tournaments, postal correspondence games and Internet chess now attract men, women and children around the world.

Benefits Of Playing Chess

A boy with glasses and a set of chess in the hand, showing thumbs up

Playing chess regularly has a number of benefits to your mental health and overall personality. On this International Chess Day, let’s look at Some of the benefits:

  1. Boosts planning abilities
  2. Enhances Focus
  3. Healthy Mental Stability
  4. Encourages Patience
  5. Known to protect against Demantia
  6. Improves Cognitive Skills
  7. Works on both sides of the brain
  8. Improves Problem-Solving
  9. Improves Spatial Skills
  10. Increases IQ

Chess And Artificial Intelligence

With our ever advancing achievements in the field of Artificial Intelligence, new breakthroughs pop up almost every month, amazing us time to time as the human brain takes a few more steps each day towards fully replicating its intelligence.

As astonishing the term A.I. is, AlphaZero, the game-playing AI created by Google sibling DeepMind, has beaten the world’s best chess-playing computer program, having taught itself how to play in under 4 hours.

Computer programs have been able to beat the best human chess players ever since IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer defeated the Chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov on 12th  May 1997. DeepMind said the difference between AlphaZero and its competitors is that its machine-learning approach is given no human input apart from the basic rules of chess. The rest it calculates and works out by playing itself multiple times with self-reinforced knowledge.

The result, according to DeepMind, is that AlphaZero took an “arguably more human-like approach” to the search for moves, processing around 80,000 positions per second in chess compared to Stockfish 8’s 70m.

The Succesor to AlphaZero

An algorithm that is even beyond AlphaZero was released in 2019. On November 19, 2019, DeepMind launched the latest algorithm based on reinforcement learning, MuZero. 

The MuZero algorithm learned to play chess better than AlphaZero without even initially being told the rules of the game. The MuZero learning algorithm has a maximum of 1 million chess games saved in the buffer, with 3000 games played in parallel, as has been stated by Schrittwieser.

This was possible because DeepMind had access to Google’s vast cloud infrastructure and used thousands of tensor processing unit chips specifically designed for neural network calculations.

Human Intelligence Still Prevails

A visual representation of a chessboard with a fake human brain in the centre

Artificial Intelligence has definitely evolved to a very high standard with advancements and upgrades in the way it mimics the human brain each day. However, the human mind too develops with each passing day and is surely more complex and vivid in the way it thinks and processes information.

There is no doubt that AI works more efficiently but the human mind works with a broader perspective and is definitely capable of adapting and evolving way more effectively, may it be a situation at hand or a game of Chess. 

On The International Chess Day 2022, let’s realize the fact that a highly strategic and complicated game was indeed designed and developed by human minds. Chess truly highlights and glorifies the accuracy, imagination and complexity of the human brain and how it functions. 

At the end, it is we who gave birth to the AI and not the other way round!


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