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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Chess is like that, too


I don't have the brain for strategizing.

I've been playing chess against the computer.

20 games, 20 losses.

When I make a spirited move toward attack, I go blindly and lose a valuable piece - my tough rook or the crafty horse or catastrophically, my Queen. I go barreling in with my sights on wiping out a lesser piece and neglect to see the dark figure lurking, that innocent-looking pawn waiting for my impulsive mistake, sitting on its flat bottom all satisfied.

Attack is a spontaneous movement. There I go, all aim and self satisfaction, glory in the moment, only to watch the little victory swallowed up by huge defeat.

I must figure out how to unify forces, how to coordinate an attack. No, I must get the blood sport in my veins - that desire to wipe out all subordinate attackers and then go for the Queen. Because she is the backbone, the prime intelligence, the omnipotent piece, multi directional, sliding across long sweeps of the board to eliminate from afar. The King is a figurehead, a farce, a red herring on the black and white plain. He's all bluster and crown. But kick him off the dais, remove the foot soldiers and the matriarch, and he's useless. Taking baby steps, hiding behind the pawns, finally resigning to defeat.

Playing chess is as much about anticipating your opponent as planning attack. I can do one but not the other. Predicting moves is self protective, more passive and pacifist than independently aggressive. Winning comes down to that force - the grit and determination to take all, to debilitate, to utterly spoil the opponent.

Where does this come from - is it a predisposition, a learned behavior? How often does one have to consume meat to taste blood - and yearn for more blood?

Aggression derives from survival -- and we are no longer in that sphere. We are not physically vulnerable in our environment; we are not dependent on fresh kills for our daily meal.
That strain of appetite is as anachronistic as the limbic brain. Nowadays, aggression is about consuming the known, the familiar. I think it must be an acquired taste.

What happens to the chess player who has no taste for the game?

20 losses.

1 comment:

RooksBailey said...

Very nice entry! I'm an avid chessplayer...so I guess I am one of those with a killer instinct. :-) Don't worry, I confine my aggression strictly for the chessboard.

If you ever want a game against a human (chess programs make for frustrating opponents), you can find me over at Chess.com as RooksBailey.