We all have our pastimes to pass the lockdown time and mine is chess.
An Austrian opponent Motzmarkus who has the beating of me invited me to join his 15 player tournament on the internet chess site. I duly accepted.
You had to move every two days which is normally too frequent for me but in lockdown I had the time.
Much of yesterday was taken up in a game against a Spaniard who is leading the table with 7 points, Superfrank. He moves quickly. There is more margin for error when one does. We play two games, one white, one black.
In the black game he failed to notice a check on his first rank which exposed his rook for capture. This effectively ended the game but he has hung on.
My white game is much tougher. We entered the end game level on material. I had the superior position with my castle on my 6th rank. Withe 2 promoted pawns his rook stationed to block any advance was immobilised. However his king was more centrally placed. I made an error whereby he could fork rook and pawn with his king but – much to my relief – he did not see it and moved his king away and down the board.
Gradually my king got into play and he was forced to sacrifice his rook for my pawn to stop it queening. The game was not won as he had an advanced pawn but, well ahead in material now, I could afford to sacrifice.
Again he failed to notice, when queening my pawn, the long diagonal threat with my new queen stopping any possibility of his queening.
If he does, I take with my queen and his king – out of position – cannot prevent one of my pawns from queening . To achieve this winning position I had to think carefully and offer up my white pawn which would have blocked the diagonal threat.
Chess involves strategic thinking, a brain that can work many moves ahead.
In my case I can visualise a board quickly and see winning moves. I would not describe myself as strategic chess thinker of the first order – such a player quickly controls the board and stifles you.
I would not describe Boris Johnson as a strategy thinker either.
Too often just like a brave but impulsive chess amateur he will chance a risky move.
He seems to think tangentially.
He has still to meet his testing target, the return to schools seems poorly thought-out, according to one teacher I know well, quarantining will affect the hard hit aviation industry and yet last week he was urging all obese people to get on a bike – as if there are not enough of these Lycra-pests anyway as ‘the science’ has linked the virus with obesity.
A brilliant chess player would weigh up all options,dismiss those that do not work and have two plans to win. He/she would have an endgame strategy just like in the middle game against Superfrank I had worked out my final and winning positions. Then again, chess does not attract much publicity, money or career acclaim so I don’t suppose Boris Johnson would have much interest.