Phaedrus added the following comment to my latest post:
"It is completely unclear to me why an "ideal game" should end with an endgame. It might well be possible that the ideal game (played by the super computer that "solves" the game of chess, is already decided in the middlegame. As your assumption of an ideal game is the foundation of this quest, I do not know if you have struck gold here. Yet I am very interested to see where it ends."
Disclaimer: warning, abstract ranting ahead!
There are 3 ways by which a game can be won.
- Winning a piece
- Mating the King
- Promoting a pawn
The question is, can you force that?
Imagine a middlegame position with no pawns. There is no way that you can win a piece by best play because the pieces are simply too volatile. Every attacking move can be countered by either a counter attack or a defensive move. You can only win a piece with a duplo-attack if the pieces are restricted in their movement. Pawns are the agents nec plus ultra to restrict pieces. So the question translates to can you force the restriction of pieces by pawns so that a duplo-attack is unavoidable?
The second group I have called the traps. A trap has as characteristic that you restrict the movement of a piece by moving your pawns forward. This leads to the question can you force the restriction of pieces by pawns so that a trap is unavoidable?
Given the similarity between both questions I think it is justified to say that if one of the questions must be answered with no, it probably means that the answer at the other question must be no too.
I simply cannot belief that the final frontline of the pawns will be far off of occupying about 50% of the board at average. I cannot belief that 1.d4 or 1.e4 give you such forced advantage that you will end up occupying say 75% of the board. A ship with two captains who want to head in opposite directions and where every captain can steer for 5 minutes will end up roughly at the same spot as where they started.
I cannot imagine that owning 50% of the board is enough to trap a piece or to force a duplo-attack. So, overall, winning a piece by force with ideal play from both sides is beyond my imagination.
Which leaves mate as the only method to win before the endgame. I consider mate to be a special instance of a trap. But there is a difference. First the value of the king is infinite, which means that every means is justified as long as it ends up as mate. Second, the king seems somewhat limping, because of old battlewounds, of course. He moves slow. Which makes him an easy target. I have no arguments that an early forced assault must be excluded. On the other hand I have seen no indication at all that such untimely assault is likely.
Because of the application of computers we can be sure that such assault will not take place in the first 12 moves. On the contrary, the longer I let a computer evaluate a position, the closer it gets to a zero advantage, usually. After centuries of chess no indication has emerged that an early forced assault is likely. But I cannot proof that it is impossible.
If it is possible, we are not able to find it though. Which is the same as saying for us humans, with the aid of computers, it is not possible. Yet.
As long as it is not proven otherwise, the ideal endgame will thus end in the endgame.