Modeling a Chess Game

by Betemariyam Gessessee

Understanding Modeling

The basics of understanding the purpose of computational modeling is found in understanding the use of modeling a system. A system is an interconnected group of elements that each function and interact with one another. By modeling that system, we are able to better understand it and have a more detailed idea about the many behaviors that exist within it.

Take a look around you, what system do you see?

For me, the first system that I found interesting was a simple chess game.

Once you have identified a system you, need to obtain certain data of that system. Data is the recorded characteristic or information of your system.

So how do you get data? Well there are all kinds of open sources out there but as a beginner, I decided to gather my own data...

Also, since the pieces of both players are independently functioning during the game, we can consider those to be our elements.

Since the black and white pieces share the same chess board, they do in fact interact with one another; a piece might capture another piece or be found on a location that another piece was present on at sometime throughout the game.

System Choice

My data came from the iconic Topalov vs. Kasparov Chess match from 1999.

A chess board is lettered from a-h and numbered from 1-8. That means each square is unique in its location.

I was able to manually record each move made by both players. At this point, I have understood the system I want to map, and I have begun collecting the characteristics of what will later be my nodes, edges, and attributes.

Kasparov Vs. TopalovDataSet.xlsx


I used an excel sheet to record every move and variation that took place during the game. did most of the heavy lifting on this part; I simply gathered information.

Computational Tool

Cytoscape is a phenomenal tool that allow you to take in data in the form of a Network File, in this case Excel, and render that file into a visual image of you system.

Attribution Circle Layout to data Highlighted the Queens relations. Below you can see a blue circle, this is all of the 64 possible chess coordinates in a circle layout; all of the remaining nodes that exist outside this circle are the pieces that corresponded to those coordinates. The red highlighted is the queen.

Selected Heat Circle highlighting the concentrated board patterns eg. the dense red that you see, edges, is from pieces like a queen that has been able to maneuver all over the board in this case a8.

Grouped Attribute Diffusion

Different Layout Highlighting different pieces on the board, but same Data.


Potential Analysis that we can pull from the Model.

Using visual elements we can see the influence each piece had in the game and exactly what other pieces it interacted with.

The content of these pages was created by students for students with the help of educators and scientists. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF or ISB.