Philippe Vukojevic

We pass along this thoughtful piece from our friends at ChessPlus. This article is by Phillipe Vukojevic, Chief Editor of the First Rank Newsletter.

Philippe Vukojevic

What strikes me in our society today is the enormous polarization. First of all, I have to have an opinion about everything (Brexit, face masks, vaccinations, global warming, homeopathy, veganism, yes, even people…).

Moreover, this opinion must be very clear: it must be either white or black. If I were to say that I see both white and black in a subject but especially a lot of grey, then according to social media, each side will regard me as narrow-minded, selfish and idiotic.

And it goes even further: once I have been stigmatized as a black or white viewer for one thing, then I am immediately a black or white viewer for everything. Are the shades of grey only to be seen in old films? No, in chess, which is the black-and-white game par excellence, the shades of grey fortunately still matter.

It is great to see two players analyzing a position. They are not going to subject every move to a heavy analysis and discussion: players immediately see that certain moves have no influence whatsoever on the further outcome of the game. Moreover, with the exception of mating moves, it is rare for us to be convinced that we have played the best move. This uncertainty is to our credit, I think.
Not to mention the beauty of two players’ joint quest for the ‘truth’.

‘Couldn’t you have played this?’
‘Yes, but I was afraid you would play this’,
‘Oh, I hadn’t seen that one.’

Of course, in chess today we have a number of supreme beings who have the truth, our silicone friends. Some chess players swear by Fritz, others by Houdini or Komodo and still others just believe what Stockfish says. In any case, whichever supreme being we trust, they have taught even the most conceited chess player some humility and a sense of perspective.

Chess players have therefore long accepted that there is no point in seeking the ultimate truth in a position. When playing against a human, you do not necessarily have to play the best moves to win, but chess players knew that even before the supreme beings were created. Tal demonstrated it to us again and again, and another former world champion, Boris Spassky, also stated that he could lose in any analysis, as long as he won the game.

For this reason alone, should not all people learn to play chess? To fathom together with the opponent, in all humility and peacefulness, the complexity of life on the chessboard and to spend a pleasant time together with the opponent, whether he or she is a white or a black viewer…

Just a thought…

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