AI and Chess

Here is a self-composing music using AI.

I watched an AI documentary on my flight back from China, where I learned about the self-composing music using AI.

My immediate question was can this technique applied to chess as well?

The possibilities are certainly there.


AI and Chess

Deep Learning and AI has been the topic in the tech world. Ideas from self-driving cars to language translations have expedited the hype.

Chess had its own moment in the news, namely AlphaZero, where DeepMind stepped aside from the game Go to join the chess research.

AlphaZero not only took down Stockfish in record time, what’s more impressive is the new approach it brought to the game.

AI Applications in Opening Prep

Part of a chess player’s growing pain is how to prepare an opening repertoire. The vast amount of possibilities often overwhelm a strong professional player, needless to say, it’s a much more painful chore for club players.

What if there is a machine that can self-learn opening styles from top players, and then provide a repertoire based on a student’s preference or his/her chess idols?

What if once that repertoire is ready, it can be imported to or other chess databases and can be easily accessed?

One reason of the popularity for AI is the cool applications, but another is the accessibility for us mere mortals to get our hands on and experiment with the technology.

We are just at the beginning of the AI advancement, and as technology progresses further, the possibilities would only increase!

Happy brainstorming!


For those who are interested to explore further, below are some references.

Chess Reinforcement Learning:


This Week in Chess:


Confidence and Patience

Teaching chess takes a set of skills. Teaching chess to kids takes a completely different set of skills.

When kids 6-10 years old first picks up chess, two typical scenarios are:

Group A: ‘Oh Oh Oh Oh, I know this’. They’ll react instantly, want to get to the answers immediately, and keep going forward with the argument until there is not much left.

Group B: think, search, think, search, and think for more to get to the right answers, and still not sure how to respond.

We’ll call A Confidence, and B Patience.

Both wants to win or solve the puzzle, but they go from different routes.


Group A are willing to try things, and they are not afraid to be wrong.  They have 10 ideas in their head within 5 seconds.

This will help them become more creative as their chess vision expands.

For the patience Group B: they are detail orientated, they want to check all the possibilities.

Their meticulous calculations will help them analyze both deep variations and broadly as more than one variation is possible.


On the flip side, these same strengths are often what give parents the most headaches.

Group A misses many opportunities. They often choose second best options, or worse, completely irrelevant ideas.

Group B becomes very indecisive that it feels paralyzing. And the thought of playing chess with a clock is unbearable.

How to improve

The best way is to have both. Telling Group A to slowdown is probably unfruitful. Try ask them to calculate the variations deeper or ask if there are other possibilities instead.

Similarly, telling Group B ‘just make a decision’ will introduce more anxiety.

Instead, ask what you have calculated, and what outcomes did you see in your calculations. Did you make the decision faster than last time?

In the end, we want to have both, confident but also patient. It will take practice, but learning chess will be more fun.

Chess Programs: How to Learn Actively

As chess gets popular in the United States, the opportunity to participate in chess camps or school programs also have increased.

Parents and coaches can us the information from this post to encourage students to actively learn in chess.

Chess programs can be grouped by age or, more commonly, chess levels. Here are three common chess levels:

1. True beginner:  learning the rules for the first time
2. Play-at-home level: knows the rules; ready to learn basic tactics and strategies
3. Tournament-play level: competed in tournaments; has been working on chess study; wants to increase chess rating.

Regardless of a student’s chess level, the following five points should be the focus to get the most out of a chess chess program.

 Asking Questions
• Playing Games
• Trying New Ideas
• Teaching Others
• Making Friends

Asking questions

Schools are moving toward more instruction and less interaction. Chess programs should not follow this pattern. Instead, questions during a lecture will bring ideas both for the students and the instructor.

It helps to encourage students to answer instructor’s questions without being afraid of being wrong. Questions can be general ones, like questions about chess world champions, chess history, etc.  Or they can be knowledge-based, such as how to checkmate with two bishops.

Playing games

Like many other activities, chess is a numbers game. Grandmasters generally play many more games than a beginner. Chess programs is an opportunity to play multiple games in a day.

A beginner should learn to not be afraid to play against stronger players. This is the chance to train and ask questions. At the same time, playing against less-experienced players is a chance for your child to teach what they know.

Either way, they can use the camp to increase their chess experiences.

Trying new ideas

In my lessons, I ask students to try out ideas at home (online), then learn from these experiences and apply them in tournaments.

Camp or school clubs are the best time to test ideas. If they want to learn a new opening, they can try it during these programs. Then they can ask questions about it.

Not only is this a low-stake environment (results don’t matter as much as in tournaments), but they can also immediately ask for feedback.

Teaching others

                                    If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.

–Albert Einstein

Encourage a child to teach what they know. We live in an era where knowledge has become more of a commodity, and information can be easily found on the internet.

Not only are they helping others to learn new ideas, they’ll also clarify their own thoughts in the idea. For example, once they have learned how to checkmate with two bishops, showing others the process will only help them to understand it better.

Making new friends

This may be the most important of all. Going to chess camp or club will give a child the opportunity to make new friends with other chess players.

After all, chess is a game that shows off the competitive spirit on the board, and friendships off the board.

When a child  interacts with other kids and works with them to solve problems, it will help them work during the camp, and more importantly, form a friendship for their chess careers to come.

Whether your kids are just picking up the game or are ready for tournament play, I hope this post will help you and them to gain the most from any chess programs.

Building a Strong Foundation

Like any other endeavor, success in chess begins with a solid understanding of its basics. There are many things to keep track of during a game such as weak squares, hanging pieces, or blocked minor pieces just to name a few. So how do we navigate this complex game and find success? My firm belief is we find more consistent victory and enjoyment by creating a strong understanding of the basics.

I was introduced to the game at the age of 5 or so by my father. Although I greatly enjoyed the game, there wasn’t much of a chess scene where I grew up around Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Like many other kids my age, I soon replaced chess with video games and less academic interests. It wasn’t until much later that I returned to the game and with a passion I had never had for any other venture. Now 20 plus years older than when I moved my first pawn, I have learned how to learn and have developed a more mature way of thinking (although my wife may disagree). Essentially relearning chess at an older age has given me a unique perspective on the game and way of teaching the basics, a way that I believe to be simple and effective.

My goal in writing for Chess^Summit is simple: to share concepts and examples that anyone can digest and learn from. There is some “common knowledge” in chess that may not be available to beginners if they never had a coach or formal training. Indeed until I started working with a coach there were many, many basic principles I just didn’t know. While my articles may seem primarily aimed at a novice to intermediate level, there is always something to be rediscovered in studying the fundamentals of the game. Truly, masters of any discipline need to revisit the basics from time to time.

As a resident author at Chess^Summit, I will be sharing biweekly articles with you. In an effort to make the material as accessible as possible, I will keep most things as basic without going into too much theory. I think one of the great joys of the game is finding a topic you’re interested in and doing your own research leading to your own unique conclusions, discoveries, and “aha!” moments. As I am more of a visual learner myself, I will also share easy to understand diagrams and examples to reinforce ideas. I’m excited to share on this platform and look forward to discussing the game we love with you.

You can follow me or chat with me on Twitter @danschultzchess



11 Crazy Things that happened to me in Europe this Summer: On and Off the Board

Having been inspired by the one and only Kostya Kavutskiy and his Best of US Chess of 2016 article,  I spent 2 months traveling through Europe this summer as a chess vagabond.

I’ve been so grateful to use chess as a vehicle for seeing new places, meeting new people, and experiencing new things.

Here are some of highlights of my summer trip that will hopefully inspire other readers to try the nomadic chess lifestyle:

I got obliterated by Shirov

Growing up, I had idolized Shirov. I’ve had a copy of Fire on the Board for as long as I can remember. When I got the opportunity to play him in a small rapid tournament in Latvia, I was eager to put up a tough fight.

Unfortunately, I did the complete opposite of putting up a tough fight. I totally collapsed in the opening. It was ugly. My position was resignable on move 11. To make things even more embarrassing, the whole catastrophe was caught on video:

I got crushed by Sveshnikov

Later in the same tournament, I got to play Evgeny Sveshnikov. I played d4 to avoid his Sveshnikov variation, but he beat me anyway.

I saw a flying polar bear

IMG_9804Prague, Czech Republic

My Czech friend Katerina Nemcova has always told me that Prague is a magical city. I didn’t realize it was this magical.

My two queens were not enough for Nabaty’s two rooks and bishop

Rosen-Nabaty after 65...Rf8+

As I stared at this position with less than 1 minute ticking down on my clock, I realized my doom. It’s not everyday you reach a position where your king and two queens are all under attack. Kudos to GM Tamir Nabaty for finishing me off in spectacular fashion.

Photo by Pavel Kirs

Here’s the full masterpiece:


I let some fish snack on my feet

Prague, Czech Republic


This so called “fish spa” is actually a popular thing in Prague.  These special breed of fish called Garra Rufa nibble away dead skin, leaving the feet feeling silky smooth. I paid about $35 for 20 minutes of nibbling. My feet were super smooth for the following several weeks!

I snacked on some fish

Teplice, Czech Republic


When I ordered the trout, I was not expecting the entire trout (eyes, teeth, and bones included) to be sitting on my plate. I reluctantly consumed the meal, but I don’t think I’ll be ordering trout again anytime soon.

I executed a queen sacrifice leading to double checkmate.

Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 1.07.27 PM

The heading should offer enough of a hint…Black to move!

Here’s the full game:


I defeated a WGM in 9 moves

I had the honor of playing WGM Jana Bellin who has won multiple British Women’s Championships and currently serves as the medical officer for FIDE. Unfortunately for her, she did have the best game and actually apologized afterwards for losing so quickly.

I flew through the mountains of Benasque, Spain

With a drone that is.

I defeated Magnus Carlsen’s former coach, Simen Agdestein.

The full game is well analyzed by FM Chris Chase in The Boston Globe.


The day after defeating Agdestein, I discovered the following music video on YouTube…


I’m so glad I didn’t watch this video before I played Agdestein. It’s a difficult thing to unsee.

I witnessed someone become a GM

That someone is Andrey Kvon. He defeated GM Ivan Sokolov (with the Blumenfeld Gambit!) in the last round of the Xtracon Open in Helsingør, Denmark to secure his final GM norm. His rating going into the event? 2500 exactly. Here’s what becoming a grandmaster looks like: 

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