When I first encounteredThe Final Theory of Chess I was in the library looking for materials on cultural geography for a research paper. Spying the book from the corner of my eye, I wasn’t sufficiently motivated to open anything with such a title. Attempting the final analysis on anything reeks a bit of hubris doesn’t it? I found out later that the book is meant as a first step of sorts, and the actual title is more marketing ploy than chess death knell.
A few years later I’ve paid the book its due, and I find it intellectually honest as well as ambitious. The information is available in Wiki form available here. Part of my aversion to reading the book had been based on concern; any claim that the game I love will soon exist only in diminished form really shakes my tree. I came to chess later in life than most, and I don’t want to miss out on the process of incremental discovery that makes the game so rewarding.
The book’s principal idea, that chess is often a draw, one drawing line is claimed to be as good as another, makes solid theoretical sense, but may not necessarily be based on practical chess scenarios. Why might you need an expansive repertoire when it serves the same functionality as one that’s learned more easily?
1) Putting your opponent through the psychological paces can help you win a tournament!
2) You want to make your opponent go through the crucible of your preparation. Pose him interesting problem he’s not likely to have studied because they’re beyond the practical limits of what a chess player can do.
3) Good old variety.
4) To keep championship chess from continuing on the path it’s going down. We already see how a few lines dominate and fortune favors those champions who take few risks. If you could solve chess it wouldn’t be beneficial for the future of the sport at the highest levels (no doubt a determinant of how the game appears to chess mortals).
All this isn’t to say that going through the hundreds of pages of FTOC theory is easy; there are mind-boggling positions in the repertoire provided. Sometimes you want to stick with a particular chess theme and if you’re going to sit with a stranger for six hours you may as well indulge yourself to the extent the game lets you!