Thursday, May 3, 2007

Nothing to do with what's important

Winning and losing is what they are all about. It's not chess, chess is art.
- Searching for Bobby Fischer

I got to tell you, I love this movie. It is a good movie, exciting, and moves me as a parent. But more importantly, the author/screenwriter/director has done an amazing job of actually capturing many of the struggles of chess, that have nothing to do with the actual moving of the pieces.

One of the most important questions is, how do you approach the game? There can be a fundamental dichotomy between "winning and losing", and playing well. Of course this dichotomy doesn't have to exist, but it does, especially in amateur and scholastic chess.

Wild, crazy, unexpected moves. Just for the purpose of providing pressure under the clock. Playing the game to discombobulate your opponent. A psychological advantage, which in hopes turns into a win, even though fundamentally the game may be unsound.

This question, is at the heart of chess learning, and I think at the heart of the knights. There are some that just want to win. That want to beat those that have beaten them. Regardless. They are in the circles because that is a path that they think will work. It isn't because the game will be better per se. It is because this is what it takes to win. You will see an attraction to tactics because it puts the opponents on thier heels, that the pressure is exquisite and the game is fun!

Others are taking the path, because it is a part of thier game that is missing. That they know a tremendous amount about the game. Its history and its maxims. They have a difficulty in expressing themselves over the board, because they lack vision to see the tactics. To see beyond the maxims. And so they do the circles to support thier superior chess knowledge. Often it will be difficult to do the circles, because they don't understand what they are learning. And understanding is often the most important thing.

I don't know where I come down on this. I think it depends on the morning. My son, who has no idea, just mostly likes to win, and will do whatever. And the path to learning tactics, in and of itself, serves both purposes and will not make the decision for him.

I do think, that we can become better chess players by understanding the unsound, even if our only goal is to beat our opponent. Which I suppose is the lesson of Washington Park.

1 comment:

hisbestfriend said...

If this whole thing seems just too WOO HOO. And you haven't seen the movie... See it. Better yet, buy it because it is all the in between stuff that is so good if you're at all chessy.