Saturday, March 27, 2010


There is an old paradox posed by the question "What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?" I believe that this is just a problem with semantics because when a force meets an object, only two things can happen: either the force is resisted or the object moves. The words "irresistible" and "immovable" apply only to the past record and cannot both be true at the end of the meeting.

Juggernaut is often the nickname of an irresistible force. I first learned of juggernauts in the Dungeons and Dragons module "Tomb of Horrors" which has one pictured here powered by a Heffalump. But Google's imagery is dominated by the X-Men villain named Juggernaut. In the comic, Juggernaut is such a physical force that he can only defeated after his helmet is removed and he's incapacitated telepathically. The triumph of brains over brawn reminds me of chess. The helmet reminds me of paranoid delusions that wearing aluminum foil on one's head can block mind control. Juggernaut appeared in the 2006 X-Men: The Final Stand.

In the Reno Chess Club Championship Qualifier, a classic match-up was built up between Nate Garingo and myself, the highest and second-highest rated players respectively in our section. We had both racked up seven wins and no losses to that point. I had been nicked for a draw on the previous Sunday, but ever since coming back after a break from chess, I was on a streak of 14 games with no losses. Game #3 of that streak was my first and only win against Nate in our then six-game series, the other five games being all losses for me. Nevertheless, I dare say that I had built up some reputation as an immovable object.

I had prepared a weird line of the accelerated Dragon, but Nate opened 1.d4. I had briefly looked at my old modern games and wondered why I had given up the old plan of g6, Bg7, d6, Nc6, and e5. So I gave it a whirl. Nate deviated with a weird Nb5 and the struggle moved to the queenside. I tried to open the center and take advantage of his uncastled king, but his bishops tied me up. White's advanced queenside pawns had me cramped for the whole game. On move 19, I overlooked a tactic that lost me a pawn and forced me to blockade a pawn on a7. I got in time trouble and couldn't calculate accurately any more. When Nate briefly took his helmet off on move 27, I incorrectly evaluated a complex endgame and missed my chance for a draw.

On move 31, I resigned. Nate the Juggernaut triumphed against my no-longer immovable object.

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