Review of "Chess"

published 03/12/2011 | thedevilinme
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Super
Pro Not only for clever people
Cons Mental torture
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"Beating the bishop by watching the pawn!"

Grand mastress Alexandra kosteniuk - do you want to play then Devil?

Grand mastress Alexandra kosteniuk - do you want to play then Devil?

Whereas the Commonwealth nations can decide disagreements with a game of cricket or two in the good old days the East and West chose to go to war on the chess board, memorably at the 1972 world championships between Bobby Fisher and Boris Spasky, dominating the headlines both sides of the Iron Curtain for the duration of this extraordinary showdown in Iceland, every piece aggressively launched back and fourth like a missile at Moscow or New York. Fisher would win and Americas first chess world champion, suggesting an intellectual weakness in communism over capitalism.

Chess is a mentally punishing game, one of those challenges you should only enter into if you are prepared to lose. Being whipped by someone much younger than you or you feel smarter than, can be hard on the ego, especially if you define yourself by your intelligence, a defeat similar to that of a person that thinks they are handsome or pretty but being called ugly by three strangers in a row. You have to be tough to play to win. Like with the England football team it’s all about the fear of losing over the kudos of winning. Bobby Fisher only took on Spasky when the time was right for Spasky to lose, the same when the Americans beat the Russians at ice hockey in the Olympics all those years ago.

Learning to play chess is the first big leap and once you do you have to test your skill, which means intelligence. You have all seen the child prodigies whip three middle-aged guys at once as they tap those little clocks as the sweat runs down their forehead and so walk gently on that rice paper. It is a brutal game and the elation when you beat a better player is very high. I consider myself to be ok at chess and so pick my opponents carefully, my ego demanding I learnt to play this wonderful game.
It’s not too hard game to learn to play and if you are intimidated by all the pieces and tactics then don’t be. But it is hard to be a good player, something you can’t really accrue by playing more.

The basic rules are not as anarchic as they seem and the movement of the pieces very ordered. Pawns, the smallest pieces on the board, on their opening move have the option to move forward one or two squares and then one square forward from their after. The beauty of pawns is not in their mobility but the way they can clog up the opposition’s superior pieces, able to take any piece off the board with a forward diagonal move of one square. They cant pass or take anything directly in front of them.

Bishops can move any number of squares at a time if their path is clear, just as the Rooks (the castles) can do likewise horizontally. If the enemy are in their line of fire then the piece launches at it on that players turn and takes it off the board and out of the game. The Queen is the super piece on the board and combines both bishop and rooks movement to sweep around the board. No pieces can take their own pieces of the board with a collision. Things are complicated by the Knight that can move in a rather strange manner, the only piece able to hop over the top of other pieces, the point being, I suppose, he is on a horse. The beauty of chess is the way the pieces move. The King is the least mobile piece on the board behind pawns and has to be defended at all costs, the game won when the King is in check mate, when he cant move to any position on the board and is currently checked, check meaning an enemy piece able to take it off the board if it doesn’t move, the king knocked over on the board when the game is lost. The top players often concede well before this point in the game as they know their opponent is suitably on top of the match and so out of respect for them, give up, an equally humiliating handshake offered.

Better players often learn the fabled openings, set moves that grow you into the game quicker that if you had played randomly, often resulting in a strong central position on the board, where the game is often won. I didn’t learn these opening gambits and tend to play the opponent freely.
Chess is also about sacrifice, losing a powerful piece to gain position and then take back their powerful piece and more a normal tactic. If your opponent feels you have made a dumb move he will do what he thinks what will exploit it, where you want him to move to so to deploy your plan, he or she the dummy then. It is 100% a mind game.

I have won more games than I have lost and would quickly overrun a novice player. When I get into the mental zone I would consider myself intermediate at best and don’t ever consider myself a good player. It is just takes too much out of you mentally to go where you need to go to beat better players and my ego doesn’t like too many whippings. I remember being all cocky in Los Angeles down by Venice Beach to play one of the old black guys at speed chess, only to get hammered in less than five minutes! I didn’t play them again, needless to say.

You can play chess online now although opponents tend to clear off when you’re winning and the game declared void rather than a walk-over. A basic chess set is cheap to buy and they come in many sizes, mini magnetic to coffee table size. I have a soap stone one from Africa I picked up in Zim for about three quid, twenty times that on Camden Market.

So, could you new years resolution could be to learn the greatest game ever invented? If it is then I’m your teacher!


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Comments on this review

  • jo-1976 published 18/05/2015
    Great title! x
  • danielclark691 published 17/05/2015
    good choice of picture!
  • FLOCKOFSEAGULLS published 17/05/2015
    Ha! Love the title...a bit Carry On after the watershed.
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Product Information : Chess

Manufacturer's product description

Board Game - Family Board Game

Product Details

Type: Board Game

Sub Type: Family Board Game

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