How computers beat humans at chess

My son turned four yesterday.

A couple of weeks ago, he was with his older cousin, who became really good at chess, and wanted to play against everyone. So my son watched this new game being played in front of him, and he started to be intrigued. More than anything, the threat of saying « Check » seemed to be an exciting perspective.

He has been talking about chess since then, so yesterday, his birthday gift was a small chess board. On the box, it said: « Object of the game: Capture enough of your opponent’s chessmen to take your opponent’s king into a checkmate position. »


AlphaZero is the most advanced computer program to play chess. Instead of being taught chess through exposure of the thousands of games played by the best human chess masters, AlphaZero discovered chess from scratch, playing games against itself.

Today, AlphaZero can beat any human being at chess. To understand where his strategic strength comes from, an analysis of AlphaZero’s gameplay has been made. One major insight came up: it seems like, after doing all its analyses, AlphaZero is not obsessed about capturing opponent’s chessmen as much as the best human chess masters. The common wisdom about chess was that, the more chessmen you capture from your opponent, the easier it will be for you to corner his king into defeat. But, because AlphaZero didn’t learn chess from humans, it didn’t pick up this piece of wisdom. It just focused on the most effective way to win a game, as proven by millions of simulations. And, it turned out, capturing your opponent’s chessmen does not rank as high as human thought.


The fact that my son’s chess box used that incorrect piece of wisdom as a way to describe the purpose of chess is fascinating. It’s the perfect metaphor for so many situations: Offering advice to someone, framing a problem to be solved without hinting at a particular solution, wondering about the long-term damages of short-term thinking, giving a fish vs teaching out to fish vs showing the river, etc.

The other role of a parent

Two stories

Weakness or improvement area?

The biggest mistake

Diverge, then converge

Simplicity, radicality, playfulness

Les Huit Montagnes

The world is working against you

If you don’t prioritize your life

No magic wand

A contrarian view

Simplification of simplification

The downside of fighting every battle

Anything simple is false

The curse of simplicity

A framework to look at your life

The basics of OKR

Learning a new board game

On en reparle dans 9 ans

Advice I’ve been giving others

L’aimant à opportunités

Vouloir percer le mystère

Sous prétexte de profiter du moment

Comment tenir une résolution

Arthur vs Lancelot

Pourquoi prendre une résolution

Identifiez votre meilleure idée

Apprendre à jouer aux échecs


Do you suffer from mental inertia?

What should I do?

A leader points in a direction

Psychological mecanisms

The more experienced you are

An old problem

Choisir ses batailles

Une autre solution

Un chemin pavé de doutes


Les mots gratuits

5 trucs contre l’insomnies

Deux secrets

Le calendrier de l’habitude

Un jongleur ne regarde pas ses mains

S’extraire de son environnement

La bonne étoile

Regarder dans une autre direction

Nicolas le stratège

Une fois entamée

Les pulsions se nourrissent du vide

L’allié de mon cerveau

La bonne distance

Clarifier ses idées

Se préparer, pour faire face

Moins, mais mieux

Pousser tellement loin

La volonté est un muscle

Le secret pour changer n’importe quoi

La méthode des petits pas

Se fier à son intuition

Qu’est-ce que l’engagement ?

Les choses auxquelles on a dit oui

La furie et la foi

Votre attention s’il vous plait

Construire quelque chose de tangible

10 choses apprises en 10 ans d’obsession

Qu’est-ce que je vais faire de ma vie ?

Il suffit d’une touche

Dix fois plus d’effort

35 bras


Le chemin de la simplicité

Un chemin de croix

Trouver plus d’aiguilles

Ses engagements

Il faut lutter contre chaque lien