The Beauty of chess


if I would have to choose a game for the desert island, it would be chess. Why?

I am playing in the 5th team of the B-class-whatever… and we have regular ladder/league games once a month. It is always a surprise, because you never know your opponent until you sit in front of him. (btw: usually I lose)

So, this Sunday it was an asian fellow with a beautiful name, La Dui or Dui La … I had white and I went for a win from the beginning.

I built up some pressure and after 12-13 moves there was a situation, where I had to decide if I bail out like a lame duck or coward… If I would do that, I would have admitted that my attack was nothing but smoke… I could have pulled back my knight and he would have known that I know, that I have nothing. Or I could play f2-f4, compromise my king for more pressure.

I did that and lost.

After a 4 hours game you have the feeling that you know
your opponent as a person. Without even talking, but by observing…

So chess is strategy, tactics and psychology… it is quite brutal.

I hope to give you more insights into the mind of a chess player, when I have something interesting to report from the frontline

any chess players here?


I like to play computer chess. I know it is not the same thing, as computers tend to play a different kind of game than human opponents. From an artificial intelligence perspective, it is just amazing to me how well computer programs play chess. We have basically reached a point where my desktop pc can play a better chess game than all but the top grandmasters, and it even gives them a challenge. It is a real triumph of machine versus man. Brute force has a lot to do with it but that is not the whole story as recent advances in heuristics have also played a large role in improving the computer game play. It is also a amazing how top grandmasters can process just a few moves every second and be competitive against a computer that is calculating millions of moves a second. When I play computer chess I have to set the computer to play with both hands tied behind its back or I have no chance.


comparisons to go in 3… 2… 1…


I’m not very good, but I love chess for the same reason. It really is amazing how expressive a game of chess is, and how much of your personality comes through when you play.


I approach chess rather badly unfortunately, in that I rarely have patience or understanding enough to fully analyse my situation. I do enjoy the odd game, but I am a complete and utter novice. I don’t use standard openings, I don’t follow any established patterns, and I hardly ever use my knights properly. I also hate sacrifices that further my play, as losing a piece means losing a piece and that’s a no-no in my book. I have to bring everyone back alive.




Sometimes you just have to tell that guy to take out that machinegun nest. It’s for the good of the team. Then later you have to carry the letter to the widow. “But- But- He was the right rook!”


It might help you to realize that Chess, as reflavored when co-opted by Europeans and turned into the game we play today, is a metaphor for court politics, not war. Little wooden lives are not at stake, so go nuts. :)


Isn’t Chess a game of complete information? Or did you just assume that he had no idea what you were doing? Seems to me that having assumptions like that would be a good way to lose.


If you want to play well, you should always play as though your opponent were a mind-reader.

Chess isn’t poker. Bluffing is for beginners.


I agree with this.

Chess is not poker or any other guessing game. Attitudes have a little to do with objectively analyzing the position and acting accordingly. Keeping the attack on in a situation like this is really only useful when the refuting defense is hard to find and there is time pressure, or your position is already so lost that you need to gamble.

Naturally, players below high levels tend to overestimate their position and underestimate the opponent’s options.

edit: doh, magnet says it.


I think chess is not about complete information, because I and most players are not able to look 4-5 moves ahead. We have to interpret or parse the board. We know all pieces, but correct evaluation of the current situation is what makes a good player.

If I would have moved back my knight that would be a pretty clear signal that my attack failed, so I did not want to go into defense. btw. I don’t know how he evaluated the situation…

So you define and play a strategy where the outcoming decides, if you had a valid strategy. Sometimes pressure means that an average player does not chose the best move (because in a complicated situation there is the time factor, how much time is left)…


Because you forgot the “alone” in the “stranded alone on a desert island”?


You have a fundamental misunderstanding of what that means, which is likely playing a large role in why you lose. You always must assume that your opponent sees through your plans and understands them. Your goal is to create a plan that he can’t stop, no matter how great his understanding. If you play any other way, you’re doing it wrong, and it’s not even close.

References you may find useful:

The Amateur’s Mind.
How to Reassess Your Chess.

Both by Silman, who’s a superb chess instructor.


Well, to be fair, chess and go are some of the few boardgames with any long-term solitaire interest whatsoever. But presumably Man Friday will show up on the desert island after a while, and you can teach him whatever game you happen to have…


That’s my point. Neither of you needs to look ten moves ahead. But if you’ve concluded that your attack has failed, why on earth would your opponent would come to a different conclusion?


Though this is generally true and reasonable, I disagree with it as a universal dictum. Sometimes you need a point, and you don’t have an unstoppable attack, so you’ve got to do something. Sometimes you can see something in your opponent’s psychology, too that may make a flawed attack or an otherwise improper move more reasonable. Or maybe the opponent is in time pressure and you are creating complexity that would otherwise not be indicated if he had all the time in the world.

But yeah, returning to the OP, there is no cowardice in aborting an obviously broken attack. A draw is better than a loss. If the attack is not obviously broken, but is just chancy, then you have to balance the risk and reward, and unless you really have a deep rapport with the opponent, emotions are pretty much irrelevant.


Your goal is to create a plan that he can’t stop, no matter how great his understanding

of course that was my goal, I had to prove it with f2-f4. If I would have interpreted the situation correctly, the best would have been to take back the knight. Boring. The attack was good, but not enough, though… this I learned.

I played f4 and checked ahead as far as I could, I kept the tension, moving back was an option, but I thought: dammit. I want a complicated, exciting match (that I had)


You don’t always need an unstoppable attack. What you do need is a move that unambiguously improves your position. Otherwise, you’ve made an error. If you don’t have any such moves, resign.

What you don’t need is to intentionally make an error, in the hope that your opponent will also make an error.


Serious chess players are serious!

Yes, in real chess against skilled players, you have to play “right.” But if you’re playing against sucky players, lousy moves can work well. When I was a teenager playing with my friend, our absolute killer move was to bring the bishops out to the second rank on the long diagonal, and just leave them there until someone forgot about them and moved a piece into their path.

This will not work against grandmasters!