Better than ever
Last Updated: 10:15 PM, April 7, 2012
Posted: 8:21 PM, April 7, 2012

Several years ago, an Australian researcher, Robert W. Howard, studied how the chess ratings of top players escalated over decades — and he concluded that the entire world is just getting smarter. Ratings growth is preliminary evidence that “average human intelligence really is rising,” he wrote.

Ken Regan, an international master and associate professor of computer science at the University of Buffalo, has a more modest goal. He devised a new metric, Intrinsic Performance Rating (IPR), to measure the move quality of great players of the past using the Rybka program.

And, yes, we are getting better at this game. He found, for example, that one of Paul Morphy’s opponents in the first American championship played at a pitiful 1194 level — that is well below today’s average tournament player.

Other findings: When Howard Staunton won the 1843 match that made him unofficial world champion, he played at an 1899 level.

Bent Larsen managed only an IPR of 2187 when he was crushed by Bobby Fischer in a 1971 match.

Curiously, Regan found that Anatoly Karpov played 179 points better than Garry Kasparov did in their 1987 match — which was drawn. And Fischer played only seven points better than Boris Spassky did in their one-sided 1972 match.

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Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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