Monday, March 8, 2010

Saving Private Ryan

Steven Spielberg's 1998 foray into cinema verite depicted the Battle of Normandy and its immediate aftermath. The story was based on the premise that saving the life of the last surviving brother of four was worth the risk to a squad of eight men. But a converse theme involves a principal character's pacifism versus the life worth taking embodied by a ubiquitous German soldier.

Actually, when I saw the movie, I thought that the German soldier who killed Private Stanley Mellish in the knife fight near the end was the very same Steamboat Willie the squad had let go free earlier in the movie. While researching Saving Private Ryan, I came across a website that debunks this common mistake. Steamboat Willie does come back at the very end of the movie, where the man who helped spare him earlier executes him. However, for the purposes of this movie-chess mashup, I'm going to go with my original mistaken impression and utilize the character of the enemy soldier who keeps coming back to make you pay.

Black King BishopBombardment prior to H-Hour
Black KingCaptain John MillerTom Hanks
Black QueenPrivate Daniel Jackson (sniper)Barry Pepper
Black Queen KnightPrivate Adrian CaparzoVin Diesel
Black King KnightTechnician Fourth Class Irwin Wade (medic)Giovanni Ribisi
Black King RookCorporal Timothy Upham (translator)Jeremy Davies
White Queen RookGerman sniper in Neuville
White King BishopSteamboat Willie, the German POWJoerg Stadler
White Queen BishopGerman machine gun nest

My sixth game of the club qualifier had actually been scheduled as round 2. I drove about forty miles to Fernley to meet my opponent on a sunny Sunday afternoon. I had hopes of driving back while it was still sunny, but that did not happen. I BS'ed my way through the White side of a French Defense and managed to get the opening advantage, but then I began to play moves without looking at my opponent's replies - Dan Heisman's Hope Chess. A faulty combination got me in trouble and I played the late middlegame one exchange down. At one point, my opponent had a tactic that would have made my deficit one full rook, but he didn't see it.

I felt bad about winning this one. My opponent had me dead to rights with 32...Qxd5! and was winning for most of the game. I tied him up for most of the late middlegame until time trouble helped him blunder away the a-pawn. Still, the endgame should have been drawn. A couple more careless moves when his clock was down to about five minutes allowed me to complete my swindle. My record in the Club Championship Qualifier remained spotless, but I felt dirty. I didn't break any rules, but I felt like I had won without honor.

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