Master defense by Enrico Maria Fenoaltea


The game of chess, given its complexity, has always been a subject of study also in the scientific Field. In the last century in particular, much attention has been paid to the construction of more and more skilled computers, now able to defeat any human being.

However, in a chess game not only the power and the speed of calculation count, but purely human elements come into play, such as emotion, stress or the instinctive predisposition for a certain type of choices and therefore, in our opinion, chess represents an ideal environment for the study of human behavior. Through the analysis of large game databases we compared the playing style of humans with that of the strongest computers, and approximating the latter to perfectly rational players we extracted the most marked psychological bias of humans. We mapped the game of chess into a weighted multilayer network and compared the structural measurements of the human network with that of computers. We empirically found significant differences in playing style interpretable as cognitive bias and introduced a simple theoretical model to explain some of the results. Our work and the techniques used could open new directions of research, especially in the fields of cognitive sciences and psychology.