The strongest chess players have been found to display almost zero programming skills.
The is the unexpected finding from a survey of the world’s strongest chess players, conducted by World Chess, the organiser of the FIDE Grand Prix Series, and software developer Usetech.
The findings are surprising given that professional chess requires major computer engine preparation; and recent AI developments, including Alpha Go, make chess almost a computer science as much as a sport.
Out of 21 world’s strongest players, only one had minor computer programming experience and is capable of writing a short script on his own. The rest of the field, including top players from the US, France, Russia, Armenia, and more, don’t have any programming skills.
Kuznetsov Maxim, the CEO of Usetech, comments: “We were quite surprised to discover that the world’s strongest chess players cannot program: we hire a lot of developers, and we know that the best ones are usually very good in chess, and this sport became something of a proxy for top programmers in our company and in the industry.
“But it turns out that it does not work the other way around.
“I also feel that the new generation of chess players, the ones who are now 10 or 12, will apparently become formidable opponents because they will certainly have programming skills that will help them learn faster and be better.”
Ilya Merenzon, CEO of World Chess, the organiser of the FIDE Grand Prix Series, a qualifier to the World Championship, says: “Chess is very popular, and we are interested in the stars of the sport. This surprising finding adds a little context into understanding the current chess stars and likely stars of tomorrow.”