Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mortal Kombat

Chess is the opposite of bloodsport. With a few notable exceptions, it is competition between minds.

Yet, it is intimately tied to war, like war's noncorporeal spirit.

In my opinion, chess will never be a spectator sport. The essential action during a game takes place within the players' minds in the setting up of hundreds of lines of analysis, arrayed like tin soldiers and knocked down with equal dispatch. Only one candidate move emerges from each line to do battle with your opponent's champion. In analysis, I have slain legions of pawns, knights, bishops, rooks, queens and kings. Reading through an unannotated game seems rather Hemingway-esque when you haven't seen and appreciated a representative sample of the blind alleys and parallel universes connected to the eighty or so positions that appear in an average forty-move game.

Last Thursday, I played one of the lower rated players in my championship qualifier group. Although the ratings predict a 98.2% win expectancy. I still feel challenge in making sure that the other 1.8% doesn't catch me. But I also challenge myself to try to win well. In the bloody Mortal Kombat video game as well as in the movie, a completely one-sided victory was announced: "Flawless Victory". I chase the equivalent of chess' flawless victory with better odds when my opponent is significantly more prone to mistakes.

While I was enjoying a middlegame advantage, I overheard a friend speak the word "bloodlust" at a neighboring board in skittles analysis. Amused, I asked what the context was. He explained that "bloodlust" was the craze that befalls you when you are trying to figure out which one of your pieces surrounding the enemy king can deliver the killing blow. I thought of Edward Lasker's book, Chess for Fun and Chess for Blood which I haven't read.

My game didn't end up flawless. In particular, I regretted my 21...Kh7!? as an inaccurate waste of time when I could have played Re6 right away.

I am but Mortal and therefore flawed, yet still I chase perfection.

1 comment:

Tony Chinnici said...

There you go! Chase perfection, baby - strive to be the best YOU can be. AFTER that you can worry about being the best period.