The Death of Kibitzing
The Death of Kibitzing
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Most amateur chess players used to assume that Grandmasters were gods who saw everything at the chessboard; inhumanly-efficient calculators who would see every little tactical nuance.  GM games were supposedly impossibly complex and decided upon the basis of one player exploiting an imperceptible error made by another.


Of course, this was in the pre-silicon era, when the Average-rated Joe lacked analytical tools. Nowadays the pendulum has swung sharply in the opposite direction. Kibitzers viewing live online games – such as the World Championship match between the Norwegian reigning champ Magnus Carlsen and ex-champ Vishy Anand of India, just underway in Sochi, Russia  – are now sitting back with the luxury at their fingertips of  number-crunching, top GM-strength computer engines that empowers them to pontificate on the mistakes being made.


As a result, many online kibitzers believe the GMs are nothing more than tactically-deficient idiots who stumble along countering error with error, and shouldn’t even by playing in the tournament at all. Dominic Lawson, the former Fleet St editor and long-time chess aficionado, highlighted this blight in the game in an interesting article for the latest edition of New in Chess magazine, entitled The Death of Kibitzing.


Like me, he yearns for the good ol’ days, when many would gather round a real chessboard and whisper suggestions – good, bad, or more often or not completely ludicrous – into a colleagues ear, such as this recent photo taken at Westlake Park during a street chess challenge. It was so better back then, as Lawson nostalgically reminds us – those exciting days in an era sans computers, when we would sit back in the press rooms at major chess tournaments, and just marvel at the fierce arguments going on between top Soviet players, as to who was or wasn’t winning and why.


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