Sunday, December 12, 2010


"The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA. Thank you very much."
- Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), Wall Street (1987)

"There are seven deadly sins, Captain. Gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, pride, lust, and envy."
- Detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman), Se7en (1995)

When the subject of the Seven Deadly sins comes up, I can remember them without too much difficulty because of the movie Se7en starring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman. I can picture the scene for Greed of a lawyer having died in his office trying to excise and place a pound of his flesh onto a scale.

On Saturday, Mark Madoff was found dead in his home of apparent suicide on the two-year anniversary of his father's conviction. Mark was the 46-year old eldest son of Bernard Madoff, who is serving a 150-year sentence for committing perhaps the largest fraud in history via a $50 billion Ponzi scheme. Romans 6:23 says "For the wages of sin are death..."

Greed seemed to be the theme of the last two games I played in the Holiday Swiss. In the first, I was the beneficiary of my opponent's excess greed. For you readers, I'm giving away some of my opening secrets as this is my gambit variation of the 2...Nf6 Scandinavian when I let White hold the extra pawn and offer a second one on move 8.

It was fun being a gambiteer since I could foresee the negative consequences for my opponent giving into greed. To demonstrate that this glass-house dweller is not here just to cast stones, here is the more recent game where I was summarily punished for my own greed mixed with a little sloth for not calculating thoroughly.

So the wages of greed in chess are checkmate.

In Jonathan Rowson's book, The Seven Deadly Chess Sins, he spends some time in the Extended Preface discussing sin and theology and its relevance to chess. It's quite a good read that makes me sorry I haven't made more time for more of Rowson's writings. He enumerates the deadly chess sins as thinking, blinking, wanting, materialism, egoism, perfectionism, and looseness. Specifically, he tries to equate materialism with gluttony, to which I cried foul because I thought materialism was squarely equal to greed.

It doesn't seem fair that for the most part, avaricious computers can do well with greed and materialism because any negative repercussions are usually within their brute force calculating horizons.

"What shall it profit a man if he gains material but loses the game?"
- Caissa 16:26