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Survival in chessland [pdf] (tom7.org)
128 points by bgschulman31 on July 31, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 11 comments

This is beautifully written and worth downloading.

“Ben does not prefer to use the shift key, a typographic quirk I replicated faithfully here even though it burns my eyes:”

The premise is: “if you were forced to be one of the chess pieces, which piece should you choose to give you the best chance of survival?”

The king is the obvious choice, but the author assumes kings will have to be sacrificed under victory conditions or when time runs out. This is lovely:

“Many games also end in a time forfeit, which is like the king's poor diet and lifestyle choices leading to a death by natural causes.”

The author uses 500 million chess games from lichess.org to estimate each piece's survival probability, and even makes heatmaps for which squares each piece usually dies on.

For those digging for the answer, it's in figure 3 under 4.1. It differs depending on the game style (bullet, blitz, classical). There's one piece that's common to almost all categories with a 70% chance of survival.

Tom7 made a video also: https://youtu.be/DpXy041BIlA

If you haven’t seen them his other videos are well worth watching as well.

He's a mad genius! I like his compiler that generates executables made up only of printable characters: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LA_DrBwkiJA / https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16312317

He's super playful and awesomely smart!

I came across his channel recently and have been watching as many videos as I can. His channel reminds me why I got into computer science in the first place.

Just me or something isn't quite right about the numbers? Intuitively, shouldn't the survival rates of the white and black kings add up to exactly 100% in each type of game, even given the rules and interpretations that the author laid out at the beginning of the article?

Presumably draws were counted as both surviving? The author suggested two different ways to count a draw ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Fascinating stuff! Sadly Windows only, otherwise I'd be interested in seeing if the results are any different run against KingBase or another collection of mostly GM games.

Windows only? Lichess is a web app first, works great on any modern browser. There are Android, and iOS native apps, a few 3rd party clients, and no Mac or Linux official clients, but you're definitely not limited to Windows.

I just meant the code behind the paper, it'd need some work to get it compiling in Linux.

GP is probably talking about the code to process and generate results

Such a chess game actually plays out in the novel "Carrion Comfort" by Dan Simmons.

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