# Luck in Chess

@C4to
#4 "I don't believe in luck, and our notion of "luck" is a description of our lack of calculation... As such, luck makes sense as a concept when one has a lower rating, because they can't calculate very far at all, and so every move is uncalculated, and becomes either lucky or unlucky.
The only randomness in the universe arises in quantum physics, really.."

Do you say 'nothing in the universe needs to be explained with luck'? The lottery winner got the price because he was lucky to pick the right numbers. Maybe he had to pick these numbers and these numbers had to fall out of the lottery machine. But he was lucky, that this happened to him, of all people. And the flower pot landing on his foot: He was unlucky that this happened to him, of all things. And he's got an insurance, not because this is necessarily happening, but because we are necessitated to insure ourselves against bad luck. And he gets a big lottery price not because this had to happen, but for beating the odds. Luck has formed and now it is doing things. Claim it had to form, alright, but it is luck, now, nevertheless.

So when we can't calculate the forces in action, but we know them well enough to know the odds, we can describe how lucky or unlucky we have been.

You are born with a wonderful voice: Is this not luck?

In chess, to generalize your example, we can't calculate very far at all, and so every move is uncalculated, and becomes either lucky or unlucky.

So, the farther you can calculate- hand in hand with that, the more correctly you can judge positions and moves from the surface- the less will luck play a role in your games. -And soon, the opening you didn't prepare is on the board.

Does quantum randomness affect chess? If it does enough to flip a bit that tips the scale in favour of a move, it would.
But we have got a lot more of random moves in chess, at least that's their name. 'C'mon, make some random moves, to gain/save some time on the clock!' These are not the carefully chosen ones, they are the first one's that come to our mind and get an 'okay'. Claim, they had to come to mind, claim the superficial 'okay' had to come, the move had to be done, still it is random, to a degree, because we let go off our normal control cycle, and our 'random average move generator' did not let us down.
'I played a couple of random moves in the opening, and we ended up in this interesting position'.
'I could not resolve at all where to put that knight, in the end I flipped a coin!'
(We may live in a universe, where the coin flip result is determined, but the player used the method to make a random move none of his choosing).

@ungewichtet

I stand by what I say, and I ask you to consider the following thought experiment: if you knew every atom in one's brain, their exact position, energy, momentum, etc, and you knew every single law of physics and assume that quantum randomness doesn't have an affect on what we see macroscopically, then you would be able to predict what a player is going to play at any given point in time. I don't see how a player making a "random" move is any more "random" than a coin flip, given enough information, and assuming quantum mechanics are negligible, you would be able to predict anything, eliminating any "luck", because you know what would happen.

Maybe you agree or disagree with what I said, I can't really tell, if I'm being honest. I kind of agree with what you say, and it sounds to me like you are agreeing with me, but not in your tone of voice.

I am not saying "luck" doesn't exist, but I don't like the word because the way I understand it, it is associated with a philosophical way of thinking that I don't agree with, and for me it is synonymous with unpredictability. And at the end of the day, the only "true" luck is at the quantum level, where there is "true" randomness, which can maybe influence a move through "chaos theory"/butterfly effect, but then you have to be in a position where you have to make an unclear decision, whether to go for one variation or another, but I think neurons behave on a few orders of magnitude above the quantum level, and on average these random effects don't have a measurable impact on how we think, even if we are to "flip a coin in our head".

But this is all too metaphysical and philosophical for my taste, and I don't want to make assumptions when I don't know how our brains choose "random" moves. At the end of the day, I don't think anyone can evaluate what percentage luck comes into play in chess, because it is immeasurable.

Thanks for that essay (no realy this was very interesting)

The two random circumstances with Lichess are random pairing and whether you get white or black. The random pairing has constraints on it based on your rating. There is an element of luck concerning opponent that depend on which openings they are familiar with and comfortable playing or playing against. Then there is the matter of inaccuracies, mistakes, and blunders. Lichess quantifies these if you analyze a game after the fact. Luck would come into play if, in your experience you have encountered these questionable moves prior and know how to take advantage. Or conversely, know how to avoid them. So I would consider it a "lucky set of circumstances" if I got white, played an opening that my opponent was unfamiliar with, and recognized mistakes and blunders when they occurred.

"When I am White I win because I am White. When I am Black I win because I am Bogoljubov." - Efim Bogoljubov

@C4to
I would like to ask what is the practical value of the physical perspective? If we look from a perspective of odds-knowing, bets-making beings, we can understand playing lottery, making insurances and choosing chess moves. Looking at the scale of particles or neurons the effects may be immeasurable, but we can gather examples from everyday life, holding all the answers.

@ungewichtet I have too much to say on the topic, I think the original question is too philosophical to really answer, which is why I delve into the physical perspective and not the numerical one.

It is one thing to ask: Was Duda lucky to beat Carlsen?: yes he was because very few people have beaten Carlsen in the last few years. This is the kind of question asked in regards to winning the lottery and deciding insurance policy, you look at statistics and probabilities.

It is another to ask: How lucky was Duda to beat Carlsen? It is an entirely different, and much deeper question that asks, as you have shown above, that one would have to consider a lot of different circumstances to tell if something was truly unlucky or not. Apart from the ones you mentioned, one could also ask: did your opponent sleep well? Did you sleep well? Which one of you two was the most emotionally stable? Who ate at the right time to get a little energy boost? Did a player have a piece fall on the floor? You'd have to look at nearly every single variable that would have a non-negligible influence on the outcome of the game, to narrow down how much of it was actually truly "lucky", and what was to be expected given the circumstances, and this I feel is innately immeasurable.

If you want to say how lucky something is IN REGARDS TO (X), then that is much easier to answer as you'd only be looking at one "dimension" of "luck", which I feel you've explored in #24.

The very nature of the question, I feel, NEEDS to be answered by a physical way, to narrow down where the true "luck" is coming from, and is not a realistic task to endeavor towards in any way, and so I blame the question for being unanswerable, and why I say it is a philosophical one. That is how I feel, at least.

So, you say, the question, how many percent of luck there is in chess, is too intricate, diverse/manifold to try to really answer, and therefore, you resort to a perspective from physics, "to narrow down where the true "luck" is coming from", I hope I am getting this right.

You are showing ways of observation, too, along which the original question would have to be answered, a task that looks to me like a huge empirical puzzle, but not at all a hopeless one.

The questions 'Was Duda lucky to beat Carlsen?' and 'How lucky (..)?' are not different in type, it seems; number two goes into detail more explicitly, only. All factors mentioned in this thread are not immeasurable, they are measureable, we can talk about them, could make notes, charts, watch results, and so on. While they are sure hard to quantify and to compare, they are at-hand and real influences. Question may be, will we know when our puzzle is complete, which influences did we forget about? Polls like this thread must be among the good tools to collect more and forget less.

Your decision to be delving into physics, and narrow down to true luck, I wonder what part this is of the answer. You say, if only we had enough information, (assuming quantum effects are negligeable) there would be no factor of luck left. Let's look at dice and poker. Dice are made so that from our hands they produce random results. Cards are shuffled and dealt out to do that, as well. You can say, we only lack information. But the point is, if we used our mathematics to produce a random column of dice results or series of poker hands, they would look exactly the same. So we can use both, randomness generated by hand or by formula, as long as the math is right. And so, the luck in poker and dice is real, even if the way the world unfolds were the only possible way.

Now for chess, this means, whenever we throw a coin to decide on a move, we invite luck; whenever we pick a move because it appears quickly in our mind instead of waiting for all candidates to arrive, we invite luck; whenever we are relying on intuition, on judgements, on impulses, on surfaces, we are relying on probabilities, and invite luck.

It seems to me correct, the world, and us in it, can bring about random events, even if the counterintuitive story were true that there were only one string of events possible.

You are just walking with a torch through the jungle. If you spot something useful you can call it luck - because you can't oversee the whole mess.

White was somewhat lucky here . After an oversight thus losing tons of material on a1 and b1 White isn't worse. Pure luck!

An alteration of a Simpson's dialogue.

Shop owner: The frogurt is also cursed.
Homer: That's unlucky.
Shop owner: But you get your choice of toppings.
Homer: That's lucky!
Shop owner: The toppings contain potassium benzoate.
Homer: ??
Shop owner: That’s unlucky!

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