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Chess, Strategy and Zen Philosophy

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I am unable to teach Chess to other people. Since I am also a humble student of Zen I have found many points of contact between Chess and Zen Philosophy. Other people have done the same.

The true Zen student find it impossible to talk not only about the meanings of Zen, but also about their status on a present moment , their degree of development, etc. Simply the task is so overwhelming that they are at a loss for words. To them Zen can be learnt/understood, but cannot be taught or explained. You may say there are Zen Masters, Zen books and so on. Yes, but the true, genuine, Masters do not teach (or shall I say “lead”?) but indirectly and perhaps if you ask him you will receive no answer or , if any, something like “this is really a no-tuition a no-teaching at all” by the way the difference between “no-something” / “un-in-im- something” is fundamental.)

Going back to Chess, when I heard some people saying they want to learn the game I see I could show him/her the movement of the pieces and that is all.

I like analysing games. Everybody likes… But ,as I have written somewhere else, I prefer games played until Kasparov´s time. I did not know why I felt so averse to much more recent games till I came across a statement in a blog. I realised “why” I have this odd feeling:  rather unconsciously (or subconsciously) I realised  there is nearly no strategy in today´s games (!). I formed myself as a chessplayer with Kotov´s books, playing and replaying Botvinnik’s, Petrosian’s, Spassky’s, Fischer’s, Karpov’s, Keres’s , Nimzowitsch’s, Capablanca’s, Korchnoi’s, Polugaevsky’s, Tal’s, Smyslov’s, etc. games. And they were full of strategy, planning, tactics, and so on. Not now. Today what matters is the point + the money + the ELO points absolutely minimizing the risk. If you can play book lines up till move 30 everything is OK. In the past players study openings to find a novelty as soon as possible. If you could introduce a new move to surprise your opponent and destroy his/her opening preparation on move 10, it was much better than on move 12 (for fear of being him/her the one in doing it first to you!). Not today. Playing your own moves from the 10th move onwards is considered suicidal : the more you play your own moves the more possibilities of making a mistake and lose. So 30 or more book moves, and if the matter can be finished off with 5 moves better than with 6…  

You may say this is not always so, that there are hundreds of players not doing so, etc. But then the same odd question assaults me: why today’s super -GMs lack the charismatic image those from the past had?. Why in the past the names of Fischer, Spassky,Karpov, Capablanca, rang a bell even to non-chessplayers?

AND I AM NOT SPEAKING OF THE DEATH OF CHESS OR A SIMILAR COMMONPLACE. I simply show my opinion on this matter. Chess is a millenary game and I’m sure it will survive as it is. No matter what the elite do. Chess is much more than the first 50 players  in the ELO rating list.

Now have a look at the following position:


This position appeared after White’s 19th move. It’s Black’s turn to move. S. Reshevsky chose 19…, Bxc2  (because 19…Qc8  allows 20.Bxf5, Qxf5  21. Qb3 ). What would you play now? Choose a course of action before looking at the game continuation.

Bobby Fischer, who was commanding the White army (Santa Monica 1966),  played:

(19…, Bxc2)  20. Qd2!!  (rejecting 20.Nxd7 or Rxc2 which would probably give small edges though), -and the game continued:

20…, Qe8/ 21. Qxb4, a5/ 22. Qc3, Bg6/ 23. Nh4, Na4/ 24. Qb3 Nxc5/ 25. Rxc5, c6 26. Rec1, Re6/ 27. f4,f5/ 28. a4, bxa4/ 29. Qxa4, Rb8/ 30. Qa3, Qd8/ 31. Nxg6, hxg6/ 32. Rxc6, Rxc6/ 33. Rxc6, Qh4 /34. Rxg6, Kh7 /35. Rg5, Rb4/ 36. Qf3! ,Kh6/37. g3!, Qxh3 /38. Qxd5 and Black resigned. 

(The next post after my holidays. Enjoy yourselves!)



Written by QChess

September 6, 2013 at 6:05 am

2 Responses

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  1. Thank you for sharing valuable information. Nice post. I enjoyed reading this post. The whole blog is very nice found some good stuff and good information here Thanks..Also visit my page win at chess .


    February 22, 2014 at 11:02 am

    • Dear Santoshwebseo,

      Many thanks again. These days I am a bit “uninspired” and this is why I have not published more posts. Sometimes I have to stop and wait till “Milady Inspiration” reappears…


      February 24, 2014 at 6:34 pm

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