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The fascination of chess

I am often asked why chess is such an intriguing game. The trite response is that it is a game of infinite possibilities, there are more chess moves than atoms in the universe. Most people are taught chess at a young age by the teacher who happens to be most proficient but unless the player shows exceptional talent he/she may never play again. It is not a spectator sport. The recent world championship game which Carlsson won did have a speed chess game which is more exciting but is to chess as t20 is to cricket.

For me the fascination of chess is to pore over a board and to evaluate your best move. The openings speak for themselves so the first 10 moves are routine. It is when you are out of the opening stage that you can make a game plan to achieve supremacy. This happened in two Internet correspondence games I had with an opponent called Booklover who has a rating of 2117 to mine of 1990. He/she is probably a top board for his club or a lower board  for his county. In the first game I achieved a supremacy in position but he broke out with a clever combination and I was forced to resign. In the second game I again achieved an advantage in position and material. I studied the position for ages anxious to deny him the winning  opportunity of the other game. He sacrificed a bishop in a last gambler’s throw. I decided not to accept the sacrifice but to attack his exposed king. I studied the position for ages and felt sure victory was mine. His pieces were isolated, his king vulnerable and my bishop, queen and rook were all in place to administer the coup de grace. I finally decided to attack a pawn by moving the bishop to the seventh rank. I played out the position mony times. However after making the move, I noticed to my horror he could not only defend his position with a rook, he could also achieve win the exchange of pieces. There must be some answer but I could see no other than to hope he does not see the move.

Luck plays no part in chess. There are no dice, no cards dealt, both players start with parity and 16 pieces. In this respect it most resembles boxing but that sport has referee and a panel to decide a points verdict. Football has the variables of an unlucky bounce or deflection, a poor refereeing decision or an injury to key player. Having said that there is no luck there is gamesmanship. A computer called Fritz can work out your best move whilst there is website which shows the games of grandmasters. Thus a friend of mine in the correspondence site played the first moves identical to grandmaster Ivanschuk whilst his opponent responded with Anand’s.  I don’t see the point of this. Sure you play to win but the key word is “you”, not your computer.

About Jakub Celakovsky

An irregular club player without pretensions to greatness, Jakub Celakovsky is a student of chess and has contributed articles to many publications on the subject over the years. He came to Britain with his parents in 1981 and runs a pub on the outskirts of Milton Keynes, where he lives with his wife and two children. More Posts