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Is there such thing as "luck" in chess?


  • 3 years ago · Quote · #1

    tresequis

    I won a Live Blitz game against an opponent ("monsieur") after I badly blundered and he badly blundered twice. As I was about to checkmate him he told me I was winning because of "luck".

    I definitely didn't play brilliantly and my rating is low (about 1450) but he played worse than me so I beat him. For me, that's not luck.

    I have also sometimes been called "lucky" after an opponent has dominated me positionally, but then made a blunder I have checkmated him.

    Can you get lucky in chess? Or are there only good moves and bad moves?

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #2

    ivandh

    When I win, it is because of skill. When I lose, it is because of luck.

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #3

    Mezmer

    I've heard the saying "There is good luck in chess but there is no such thing as bad luck" - meaning you can win because you were lucky that your opponent played poorly, but if you lose it is because you were outplayed.

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #4

    GlennBk

    You reach out an make a pawn move because you don't know just what to do. Many moves later that particular pawn proves invaluble. It could not have been foreseen. All the time we are taking advantage of luck from positions we could never have forseen.

    Who can tell what the position will be in ten moves time. Answer nobody.

    Chess is just like life you attempt to steer things for the best but the future is unknown. If the future was known then there would be no point in having any tournaments.

    The better players merely guide the thing as best they can and avoid unbalance.

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #5

    UVF02368

    Is there such thing as "luck" in the universe?

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #6

    hebrides

    The mighty Capablanca used to say: "The good player is always lucky".

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #7

    DrSpudnik

    tresequis wrote:

    ... As I was about to checkmate him he told me I was winning because of "luck".


     You should have answered: "No, I'm winning, because you're an idiot."

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #8

    Nytik

    ReasonableDoubt wrote:

    There is definitely such thing as luck.  For example, when two players go 5-0 in a section and the tiebreaks are broken by the computer, who gets first is mostly luck depending on pairings (although they did have the more difficult schedule, but that's out of the control of the losing 5-0 player)


    Seems to me that not bothering to have a better tiebreak system in place for when more than 32 players enter a five-round tournament is just poor organisation.

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #9

    Ziryab

    With online blitz, you never know what may be happening at the other end. Your opponent might be drunk, in a fight with his/her spouse or kids, playing multiple games, getting assistance from a friend or second computer, sneaking some playing time at work, ...

     

    "Luck" covers a lot of possibilities. Otherwise, luck is as ivandh described it.

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #10

    loki67

    luck is when preparation and opportunity meet.

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #11

    waffllemaster

    Ziryab wrote:

    With online blitz, you never know what may be happening at the other end. Your opponent might be drunk, in a fight with his/her spouse or kids, playing multiple games, getting assistance from a friend or second computer, sneaking some playing time at work, ...

     

    "Luck" covers a lot of possibilities. Otherwise, luck is as ivandh described it.


    Laughing I never thought of it like that.  My opponent may be dealing with noisy kids bursting into the room and jumping on their lap... or they may be running shredder in the background.  They may have had a long day and are on for a few games and a few beers... or they may be some master whose ID is too new for the rating to be accurate.

    Even if those are the extreams makes online blitz seem a bit silly doesn't it :)

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #12

    Ziryab

    Online blitz is a drug that won't put you into detox.

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #13

    Ziryab

    Fezzik wrote:

    The short answer is "yes".

     

    Do this thought experiment: Have Houdini play 50 games against Rybka. Try to predict the outcome of each game before they start. Houdini will win the match, but there's no way to predict which games it will in advance. 

    This randomness is "luck". It's why we need longer matches to determine the better player!


    Clever answer.

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #14

    UVF02368

    Fezzik wrote:

    The short answer is "yes".

     

    Do this thought experiment: Have Houdini play 50 games against Rybka. Try to predict the outcome of each game before they start. Houdini will win the match, but there's no way to predict which games it will in advance. 

    This randomness is "luck". It's why we need longer matches to determine the better player!


    Just because our limited human minds cannot understand the cause does not mean it is random.  This universe is governed by precise laws that apply even to Rybka.

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #15

    TheGrobe

    Agreed.  Unknown is not the same as unknowable and apparent randomness can easily arise out of complete causality.

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #16

    Chai11

    Yes, luck is involved because it is both a human game and an environmental one. The moment your opponent plays a move that is not the 'best', you can assume that you are lucky. The reason that he may do so depends upon such a broad set of circumstances that it is almost infinte in its complexity. For instance, how he slept last night, casual noise in the playing room, his digestion, his emotions, his familiarity with the position, his confidence, whether his long lost girlfriend should suddenly call him on the cell he forgot to turn off, etc. Any blunder on the board can be attributed to bad luck. Who can say why we missed seeing the obvious mate in one or overlooked the bishop hiding behind a nest of pawns in the corner of the board? 

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #17

    DavidMertz1

    Sure, there's luck in chess.  The last OTB tournament I went to:

    The ratings of the 48 players in my section ranged from 363 to 1596, plus a couple of unrateds.  The ratings of my opponents only varied from 1506-1528, about 200 points above my rating of 1318.  Even though pairings are deterministic, playing people with almost identical ratings every round is luck from my point of view. 

    The first 2 games, I won due to combinations that I did not see until I was halfway through them (I was just trying to trade pieces, and the tactic appeared after the trade.)  Presumably my opponents also did not see them.  There was no particular reason why the combination worked in my favor rather than my opponents'. 

    The third game, I lost after trapping my opponent's bishop in a way that forced him to trade it for the pawns by my king, which he eventually was able to take advanage of.  He told me after the game that he had not seen that bishop trap.

    In the end, I was a half point out of splitting a class prize because someone else won and I drew.  Now sure, I could have avoided that by just winning my last game.  But I think the results of someone else's game qualifies as "luck" from my point of view, especially since it was an almost 300 point upset.

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #18

    BorogoveLM

    DrSpudnik wrote:
    tresequis wrote:

    ... As I was about to checkmate him he told me I was winning because of "luck".


     You should have answered: "No, I'm winning, because you're an idiot."


    I do that all the time...

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #19

    GhostNight

    If you are looking "solely" at the game of chess, there is No Luck, this is what makes the game so great and is alluring to so many! If luck was a serious ingredient, this game would be less popular, (Suck), hate that word, lolo

    When the guy puts the button under the shell and ask wheres the button, after moving the shells around and you pic the right one is that like playing chessCool

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #20

    Ziryab

    The lower the skill, the greater the luck element in the game; the greater the skill, the better the luck.


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