In Memoriam: Chess

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FallenChessman
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In Memoriam: Chess

#1 Post by FallenChessman » Thu Feb 26, 2015 5:21 pm

For my avatar here on this forum, I've chosen a picture of the unsound Chess opening called the "Jerome Gambit". White sacrifices a piece in exchange for having more fun in the middle-game; he isn't ever going to get the piece back. Which rather summarizes the entire problem with Chess from a game-design perspective: the best way to have fun is not the best way to win.

Fifteen years ago today, when I was still a Chessplayer, I would never have played the Jerome Gambit. In fact, some years earlier I had switched my opening to the Queen's Pawn Game, largely for the sake of avoiding the temptation. Chess, for me, was more like a religion than a game. The worship of the goddess Caïssa calls for absolute dedication, perfection of move and of will; it does not require one to have fun, any more than other religions' rituals do. I studiously ignored the treacherous voice in the back of my mind that murmured "Why are you working so hard? It won't affect your life whether you win or lose." I think that I knew that if I gave in to that voice even once, if I started questioning my loyalty to Chess and measuring, at every move, whether it was worth remaining loyal or not, that that would be the end.

Fifteen years ago today, the voice changed its tune. It was the final game of a tournament, and instead of asking why I worked so hard when the outcome did not matter, the voice said "This time it does matter." Two visions of the future spread out before me. (I was, before anything else, a Chessplayer; if there was one thing I was good at, it was seeing how my choices would affect the future.) If I won: success; happiness; and the freedom to do anything I wanted with my life. If I lost: wasted potential; hardship; and gradual decline. And then the voice whispered, "But actually, all you need is a draw."

As the game progressed, I found myself with a slight positional advantage. Three hours earlier, when I was still a Chessplayer, I would have used that advantage to launch a dangerous attack and go for the kill. But instead I used it to force a draw. I think that I knew what I was doing: I was sacrificing a piece of my life in exchange for having more fun in the future; I wasn't ever going to get the piece back. Oh, I've played Chess since then, even a tournament or two, but with emphasis on "played"--it's just a game now, and there are lots of other games that I find more fun. I could probably become a Chessplayer again if I wanted, but I cannot bring myself to want to. If I had it to do over again, I would make the same choice today that I did fifteen years ago. May Caïssa forgive me.
Last edited by FallenChessman on Thu Feb 26, 2015 6:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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D Erasmus
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Re: In Memoriam: Chess

#2 Post by D Erasmus » Thu Feb 26, 2015 6:21 pm

Bravo and thank you for sharing. What an interesting perspective regarding a player of a game of pure logic. Glad you chose 'fun' to come hang out with us to play *luck* games with us. Now you can laugh as fate crushes you and blame all your losing on bad luck. I new at an early age that I was 'too stupid for this game' of chess.
Captain Yid - Hell, for 25 million I'd still play. It's not like he is being dared to eat cat crap or anything.

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