Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Rose

I haven't been reading too intensively, but Temposchlucker has been coining lots of new terms as shorthand for analysis. I'm all for acronyms and jargon as they help marshall this imperfect thing we call language into conceptual constructs. I was speaking to a beginner and using the French term "en passant" and the Italian term "fianchetto". The student asked, "Why call it that?" I had to think on my feet quickly, and decided to bluff my way into, "It's a nickname for a longer mouthful of words." The student recognized "phalanx" as Greek shorthand for "a row of infantrymen holding their shields and spears in tight formation". Phalanx was helpful to illustrate how a pawn front gets disrupted from move to move.

I have been reading Leonid Kubbel's "150 Endgame Studies". It was written in Russian and translated to German and so I am further translating it to English along with going over fun and pretty studies, and of course checking the analysis with engines. Leonid was born Karl Artur Leonid (K. A. L.) Kubbel but changed his name to Leonid Ivanovich Kubbel, apparently in response to the 1917 October Revolution.

A while back I was into wilderness survival movies surrounding Everest and other high peaks around the world. But I also came across the tragic story of Alaskan adventure gone wrong in Jon Krakauer's "Into the Wild" book which was made into a movie starring Emile Hirsch as Chris McCandless. Chris seemed to want to escape his identity and rebrand himself as "Alex Supertramp", but he himself (in the movie) read a passage from Boris Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago:

The path trodden by wayfarers and pilgrims followed the railway and then turned into the fields. Here Lara stopped, closed her eyes and took a good breath of the air which carried all the smells of the huge countryside. It was dearer to her than her kin, better than a lover, wiser than a book. For a moment she rediscovered the meaning of her life. She was here on earth to make sense of its wild enchantment and to call each thing by its right name, or, if this were not within her power, then, out of love of life, to give birth to heirs who would do it in her place.

The philosopher √Čtienne Bonnot de Condillac observed, "Every science requires a special language because every science has its own ideas".

There is also a Confucius quote, "The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name.”

But Shakespeare seems to be taking the opposite tack that the label we attach to a rose does not change its sweet fragrance. It was a helpful analogy that the feud between the Montagues and Capulets might not be a natural outpouring of antagonistic essences. I have been trying to teach my beginner that the pieces are white and black, but the squares are light and dark.

What am I getting at here? I don't know. Chess is geometry and physics and logic. If we are to finesse our way through chess' myriad formations, perhaps a richer vocabulary is necessary. It's difficult to adopt neologisms because we have to stop to explain the new definitions to everyone learning the language.

I had a time translating Kubbel's book into English since I know approximately 3 phrases in German and less in Russian. I was helped tremendously by the various web translation services of Google, Babylon, and Reverso. Still, the computers create awkward syntax, so it was left to me to exercise my skills to make smooth English. "Discovered check" always seemed to come out of the translator as "deduction chess". I also learned some new concepts of chess problems such as Indian and Roman themes

One surprising coincidence was that my last tournament game ended with my saving half a point by forcing my opponent to stalemate me. I don't know that I appreciate Kubbel's penchant for finding stalemates in his "White to play and draw" studies. They are sometimes rather funny, and, apparently to my last game, slightly practical. In my endgame obsessions, I was most intrigued by those board states that boil down to "only moves" - One move to rule them all and in the darkness bind them. I used to have an email signature from the early days of the internet "Somewhere on the board, the best move is waiting." I think there was a longer version that went like "Somewhere on the board, hidden among inaccuracies, dubious moves, and outright blunders, the best move is waiting."

It always struck me weird that a song that has a repetitive phrase "Some Say Love" is titled "The Rose". For Valentine's Day. We nurture these seeds in our lives in the hopes they become beautiful flowers someday.


frenez said...

'What am I getting at here? I don't know' me neither! Ok that made me laugh. But do show your stalemate trick, plz.

Temposchlucker said...

An important reason to coin new terms is to become independent of earlier writers. If I use the terminology of Lasker, I'm obliged to think in his spirit. By coining my own terminology, I'm free to think for myself. Which isn't necessarily an advantage, but hey, it's free and I'm used to it. It leaves the smarty-pants empty handed.