I see this question more and more frequently on forums and other places on the ‘net. The quick answer is no, chess isn’t dying or even close to being ‘solved’. The long answer is much more in depth and requires some understanding of the game and its history, and maybe even a good amount of experience with chess engines.
The famed Bobby Fischer had claimed (as many, many GMs before him had) that chess was close to being useless in its current state, and that his Random Shuffle (Chess 960) was the only way to save the game. Was he correct? In a way yes, and in a way no.
You see, to play a perfect or close to perfect theoretical game every time, no matter what the opening is used or who the opponent happens to be, you’d already be in the 2700+ GM club. If a 2300 rated FM gets into a ten-game match with a 2600 rated GM, that FM is going to lose, it’s almost guaranteed. Most of us will never, ever make it to 2300 FIDE. If that isn’t proof that chess is a game that can be mastered but never solved, I don’t know what is.
A GM was once asked after he’d defeated an IM what the differences were between the two titles and/or ratings. The GM replied, “A 2300 doesn’t even understand the game.”
Wow! That is powerful. It’s also indicative of the precision and finesse it takes to make it into the circles of the chess elite. Grandmasters aren’t just handed their titles; they get them for performing consistently at a very, very high level.
That being said, Fischer was one of the most powerful grandmasters ever to move a pawn. So while he might see chess as being antiquated and almost ‘solved’, a mere 2500 rated GM still finds the game challenging at all stages. For him, the game is far from being code-cracked.
Even the most powerful chess engines in the world often disagree about which continuation is best in any given position; if there were only one good move in every chess position, there would only be a need for one chess engine. But, just like human players, engines ‘think’ differently, have different playing personalities, and different levels of calculating ability.
All the top GMs in the world still miss things on the board, still use tactics to win games, still play positional chess, and still try really hard not to blunder. Does that sound like chess is solved? It surely doesn’t to me.
So, the next time you hear such silliness, find a game where Nakamura, Carlsen, Fischer, Kasparov, or another world-class level GM blundered a game away. If it were solved, they’d never lose. Thank goodness for imperfection, right?