Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Beauty and the Beast

Chess is the art which expresses the beauty of logic.
-- Mikhail Botvinnik

What is the art of chess? Diminuitive sculptures dance about a well-demarcated field with choreography drawing from geometry, time, logic, and pure improvisation.

In my concept of chess beauty, there should almost always be a perfect move, the most logical one. Somewhere on the board, hidden among inaccuracies, weak moves, and outright blunders, the best move is waiting. We as chess enthusiasts appreciate the art of the masters when we understand the logic that guided them.

In the comfort of my study, I often ask my pocket Grandmaster Fritz 8.0 what was the proper continuation? As long as positional considerations remain small, Fritz's materialistic evaluations are usually the truth. Fritz is often my guide to the truth and beauty, but he is like having a know-it-all art major explain a masterwork to me. I appreciate it at the level of hearing his words, but not at the level of knowing in my heart each gossamer strand in the tapestry.

Sometimes beauty manifests as symmetry in the piece formations. I missed 26...Rf4xf2! in this recent game that would have made this rook cluster. Sometimes beauty is the quiet strength of a quiet move such as the missed 29...e5!! in my Mona Lisa With Three Warts. Sometimes chess beauty shows up as tidiness in the lines. I really love the how the delicate obliques of the bishops mesh in the Evergreen Game and I well-nigh mourned when I missed my chance to be like Adolf Anderssen.

In my analysis of my analysis, bishop complexities contributing to my mistakes stood out as #7. I got smashed quite artistically in the following game from five years ago. The bishops chased my queen into a spider hole at d8. The way the queen bounces from d8 to e8 to h5 and back to e8 and d8 reminds me of a pool shark declaring "Eight ball in the side pocket" just before he sinks it and takes your money.

My last club game was against the same opponent. It had all the subtlety of a berserker pawn running up the board and cleaving my opponent's army in twain. In time trouble, my opponent heaped blunder upon blunder atop the bonfire at the end. It was an ugly win. Only Cadet Shawn from "Taps" could say, "It's beautiful, man!"

I have to admit that my egotistical self commands a higher priority than my aesthetic self. I prefer the ugly win over the beautiful loss.

1 comment:

Phaedrus said...

Isn't a beautiful loss a contradictio in terminis? But anyone who prefers a loss over a win misses something about the concept of games and sports.

Winning is what it is primarily about, just not at any prize. Beauty in games or sports is of secondary importance, and mainly a concern of bystanders and/or audience.