FOM: Chess "theorems"

Thu Mar 19 23:43:13 EST 1998

Harvey, I would not regard the intuition that the initial position is a draw as
anything close to either a chess "theorem" or a chess "axiom".  However, the
intuition of a Grandmaster about White's winning when Black's Queen is removed
is strongly justified in a technical sense--any GM (indeed any master) could
win this every time within 200 moves against all of the world's computers and
GMs collectively (given a reasonable amount of time--a blitz game would not be
appropriate but a few minutes a move would be enough even if White is not
allowed to write anything down or move the pieces).  Further, the winning
technique can be explained in terms of chess strategy.  If you are willing to
accept as "axioms" statements that certain chess advantages suffice to win,
then everything from there on is just like math (when I published a refutation
of a gambit it felt like doing a mathematical proof, leaving sufficiently easy
details to the reader etc., EXCEPT that I'd break off the analysis when
accepted "Chess axioms" like "a bishop ahead is enough" could be invoked).  Your
conjecture may be true, but no one claims "initial position is draw" is "known".

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