26 February 2011

The big comparison

The big chess comparison

For me especially, one of the more interesting side-traits of the game of Chess is that, despite its independant nature, you can compare it to just about everything. You can associate and elaborate and it just looks natural... almost as if the comparison (blunder?) was waiting to be made.

These comparisons are always being made, and many a oneliner has been dedicated to it; quite a few of them are collected over here. I like those oneliner quotes; scroll through them. Some of the comparisons I made in the long list below may be a little bit far-fetched, and other ones might seem to be less irrelephant. It's a mix of old clichés and new original thoughts. I have taken many of these comparisons from the scetch I have been preparing for many months for the "original chess©" blog (which still isn't finished at all either, by the way :p). In fact, all this drivel below is one of the main thoughts behind starting this blog in the first place. Maybe you already know half of the analogies I made below, and already know all those LINKS. Still, that other half remains which you may find to be of interest. Plus, a little bit of repetition isn't necessarily all that bad.

Your own corrections and additions - there should be plenty of deficiencies - are most welcome in the comments, if only just to give me some more feeling of "feedback" on this blog. I've sent in this blog for some sort of blog collection too, just to generate a little bit more traffic. I'm such a sellout. But really at the moment I feel like I'm standing on a soapbox for two people and five spambots. T.I.A.


chess vs. winning - winning is right, losing is wrong. Winning is not everything... but losing is nothing.
chess vs. losing - lost games are easily forgotten. In fact, very much of what happens on the chessboard is quickly forgotten, even by the players themselves... until "something" triggers them to remember it. Lost games quickly end up in an even smoother partition of the waste processing process.
chess vs. egocentrism - yes, it is very important to think you are the best chess player ever... especially much better than your current opponent. It's also important to think it's a highly unusual event to lose. It would be highly inappropriate to think such a thing to be even possible for someone as smart as you.
chess vs. strength - chess gives you a feeling of strength. This strength is expressed in Rating points.
chess vs. confidence - chess gives you a placebo feel of confidence based on the numbers you and your opponent carry. "Chess is a terrific way for kids to build self image and self esteem." (Saudin Robovic)
chess vs. ratings - oh dear, don't we love ratings. Especially when receiving a handful of them for free. "Elo was invented by the devil." (Georg Meier)
chess vs. satisfaction - will chess ever satisfy? Sometimes it actually does, but only for a short period of time. Try to captivate such a moment, and mentally rerun it many times. Sadly, the most satisfaction I have ever gotten out of chess is purely based on the "I win!!" feeling, based on a couple of results from some otherwise meaningless games of chess.
chess vs. balance - it's the chess player's task to try and keep the position balanced. Much-disliked grandmasters like Kramnik know what to do to keep a position in balance. The amateurs simply don't understand what he's doing (=>keeping a drawn position drawn). If the person behind the board is not in balance, his position soon won't hold either. Kramnik is a well-balanced person.
chess vs. war - chess is war... among friends. Your opponent isn't actually the enemy. Of course he's a bampot trying to steal your points... but that doesn't make him evil. Maybe YOU are the evil while you were trying real hard to be the shepherd.
chess vs. good and evil - you might just happen to be the evil part on the board trying to ruin the joy of what's considered "good and rightful". Good does not only face evil... sometimes good faces good, too. Good is not only Anand & Friedel. Evil is not only Topalov & Danaïlov.
chess vs. health - chess is like aids, easy to catch and very hard to get rid of. Once you have been caught by the chess virus, you'll never recover.
chess vs. laughing - chess is the battle of wits. And exchanging moves with someone else (or even with nobody but yourself) can be quite witty at times indeed.
chess vs. happiness - does chess make one happy? Sure, when winning, you'll get this unexplainable feeling of exaltation. When losing, not quite as much. Sadly, most of chess's reward/happiness lies solely in this plain "winning" feeling.
chess vs. friends - if you lose a game of chess to someone, you know you have found yourself a new friend.
chess vs. love - I'm in a relationship and it's complicated!
chess vs. sex - chess requires involuntary involvement of another heavily recalcitrating person in a prolonged mating ritual. In that sense... chess might be called rape. But most of the time, the opponent sits there entirely voluntarily, eagerly awaiting to have his/her clothes ripped off. Actually, the complete absence of sex in chess is quite dangerous... look at what happens with those priests in Catholic church. Thankfully, people like Natalija Pogonina & Peter Zhdanov stand up and write books called "Chess Kama-Sutra"... discussing how your unambitious opening repertoire reveals all your preferences in bed.
chess vs. smoking - I have little to add to this link to Marshall vs. Burn.
chess vs. alcohol - chess makes you feel dizzy as if you are drunk. It is quite hard to sober up after a longwinded chess game. Look at Ivanchuk. He was recently asked how much time he spends on chess. His evasive answer seems to be a way of saying "I can't relax, 24-7". And actually that's one of the main reasons why I like him.:) He's constantly chess drunk and makes little effort of hiding it.
chess vs. addiction - chess surely is addictive. "Addiction can also be viewed as a continued involvement with a substance or activity despite the negative consequences associated with it. Pleasure and enjoyment would have originally been sought, however over a period of time involvement with the substance or activity is needed to feel normal." This describes many chess players with a merciless accuracy.
chess vs. drugs - Don't Do Drugs!
chess vs. beauty - is chess beautiful? Yes, at times, it is profoundly beautiful. As beautiful as a lady's smile? Much more beautiful and much more meaningful. But don't tell the lady.
chess vs. mortality - sadly, after all that chess, you will still die.
chess vs. immortality - chess is immortal. No matter how many times captured, the pieces will always survive. Some games stand the test of time, and are said to be "evergreens".
chess vs. history - there has happened A LOT in the history of the game of chess, and all of that has been documented rather well in books and periodicals. For examples on the Internet, check out this database with games played since 1485 and Edward Winter.
chess vs. poetry - "let the reader be forewarned: this was one of the tourney's most interesting games, and the recipient of a brilliancy prize. Both of its phases - opening and middlegame - were conducted by Najdorf with such a high degree of erudition and mastery that the need of a third phase never arose." (Vainstein/Bronstein/Jim Marfia - Zurich 1953) Isn't it wonderful even if something like this only vaguely applies to the relevant game. Many games of chess are lauded with delicate superlatives.
chess vs. fantasy - you can let your mind flow, flow out on the board. The chessboard makes for a wonderful outlet for all your perverted fantasies.
chess vs. religion - there are millions of followers of Ruy Lopez. Some chessplayers treat their copies of MCO as if it is the holy bible.
chess vs. God - god does not play dice with the universe. He plays chess.
chess vs. infinity - the board and pieces form an infinite well. Don't fall in it. You'll surely drown.
chess vs. the universe - the number of individual atoms in the entirety of the observed universe is 10^30. The amount of possible chess positions is about 10^46.7. Don't believe what they teach you in school: chemical reactions are actually miniature chess games played on microscopic scale.
chess vs. chemistry - mixing a few pieces may lead to explosive results. User discretion advised.
chess vs. physics - this guy here explains it more eloquently than I ever could. But he uses chess as a way to explain physics, while I want to use physics as a way to explain chess. Anyway, Richard Feynman nails it perfectly here.
chess vs. mathematics - well, you actually have to calculate quite a bit behind the chessboard.
chess vs. combinations - one weak spot on the board can usually be defended properly. Two weak spots can't. A "petite combinaison" in chess is doing just that: Combining both of those defects in your opponent's position for personal gains.
chess vs. problems - chess represents a perennial problem, that can't actually be solved, but that is present anyway. It's like flatulence which has been itching and troubling you all your life. You try to hide it while seeking a solution that isn't there. In a way, chess represents how we let our problems continue to exist.
chess vs. importance - the current chess position in which it is your move is more important than anything else in the world. The next move is fully demanding all your attention. Nothing else can happen until you have made your move. Nothing can happen until the game has ended.
chess vs. acting - the cliché Sun Tzu advise comes to mind: "appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak." Chess is a role playing game.
chess vs. work - a bad day at chess is better than a good day at work. Chess will always remain a freelance job... for which you'll have to pay expenses yourself.
chess vs. life - "of chess it has been said that life is not long enough for it - but that is the fault of life, not chess." (William E. Napier). Others claim that actually, chess is life.
chess vs. music - chess and music are really two separate things, but they can complement each other quite well, like Morphy and a good piece of Opera. And check this Youtube vid by an Italian dude - he combines music, art & chess and adds a little bit of his love. Good tunes are like good smoothless attacking games, but with many songs I'd like to be able to claim the draw by threefold repetition... just so that it STOPS. By the way, you can also use music as a wicked kind of mnemonic - study an opening while playing the same song over and over. Then when you are sitting behind the board, just hum that song and all memories will come back (!!EXPERT TIP!!: be sure to assign key notes in the ditty to key moves in the desired opening). By the way, have you ever noticed how similar a chess opening database is to a service like Spotify? "Chess, like love, like music, has the power to make people happy" (Siegbert Tarrasch)
chess vs. critics - your opponent is your heaviest critic. He is apt to nullify everything you have ever achieved in just a few moves (words).
chess vs. games - is chess a game? It's not a game like any other game. No dice required, no physical input required. Just thought... lots of thought. Chess is a game in the sense that it is a leisure activity with no real purpose. But not really a game. Keep it away from children.
chess vs. entertainment - chess is wonderful entertainment. Chess never fails to entertain. It will never lose its interesting aspects.
chess vs. boredom - chess is the most boring game ever.
chess vs. relaxation - well, The Game just absorbs so much energy unseen that the shifted focus may help in relaxing from other worries in one's miserable life.
chess vs. poker - chess is similar to poker in the sense that both players keep raising the stakes until the point of checkmate. Plus there is bluff, stamina, body language, and a little bit of calculation involved. A chess game's stakes consist of the K-factor: your rating will be K points higher after winning than after losing.
chess vs. tennis - both are individual activities. One vs. One, trying to beat the other guy. They're both turn-based in the sense that your opponent makes a move and then it's your turn to do something - except in tennis you can't take some time off to think over the situation... you have to make your move immediately or the ball will have long gone. To score a point, you have to make a good move that leaves your opponent gasping for breath, lacking a sufficient reply or that simply leaves room for him to make a mistake - and every ball you strike has to be custom-made... I mean it has to be based on how exactly your opponent just passed the ball to your side (speed/angle/effect), your opponent's position on the field, and based on your own capabilities/options. For a good shot you need to set up the rally properly first - just as in chess... before you attack, you have to develop all your pieces. And exceptions are made when the exception scores a point. The thing is if you would play chess as accurately as you play tennis, you'd lose each and every single game. If you play tennis as slowly, weakly and undecidedly as you play chess, you'd lose each and every single game. Just as in chess, in tennis you can score because your opponent makes an unforced error (random blunder), make a winner (strong attack) score with a smash (sac & mate) or with a shrewd dropshot (pawn fork). Or a lob (passed pawn). Or an ace (opening prep).
chess vs. football - "football is like chess, only without the dice." (Lukas Podolski) "Football is like chess, lose your focus and you're dead." (Sir Alex Ferguson) Well, both are team activities. In chess it's 16 vs. 16, in football it's 11 vs. 11. In football, the home team should win... that counts... that overrules all individual preferences. That's what attracts the people to the stadium. Same as with chess. It doesn't matter how it happens, the points must be scored in one way or another. If not, the hooligans (voices in my head) will become troubled. The coach is in control of who moves where, and will be held responsible for his men messing up.
chess vs. fighting - chess is (semi-)intellectual karate!
chess vs. gender - the two most important pieces, the king and queen, definitely have some man/woman connotations. The woman is the most powerful piece of the board! Of course, in real life such a notion is ridiculous for some, but maybe it will incite them to rethink their point of view... although in the end, they still might say it's all about the man (King).
chess vs. racism - sometimes you play 1. e4 and your opponent responds 1... e5. You're all for white's position. Black = bad. Black sucks. Everything that's black should be exterminated. But then the very next game you have black and your opponent opens 1. e4. You play 1... e5. How bad is it to be black? This is just another way of opening one's narrow eyes against racism.
chess vs. crime - solving crime is a game of strategy. The worst crime in chess is to intentionally not play your best move... then the whole purpose of the game ceases to exist. Another chess crime is not following the chess rules properly (i.e. moving a knight like a bishop).
chess vs. logic - chess ultimately is a logical activity. Some devotees even say that chess is the ultimate logic. You go here, I go there. You go there, I go here. Logical. See?
chess vs. intelligence - does chess make intelligent? According to some, yes, since chess trains your brains and it widens your horizons. According to others, chess's repetitive activity numbs the brain.
chess vs. patterns - it's all 'bout them pattems
chess vs. brains - chess is a sad waste of brain.
chess vs. mistakes - avoid them at all costs. "Of course, oversights happen, but I can't allow myself to let them happen." (Magnus Carlsen, about his game against Anish Giri)
chess vs. science - if chess is a science, it is a most inexact one.
chess vs. sport - chess is too physically undemanding to be considered a sport. Look at a guy like Yochanan Afek!
chess vs. art - chess is wonderful art, and, at times, mighty fine. The interactive aspect of it all gives this art even more meaning... opposed to inert paintings and sculptures at which you can only just look and gaze, chess MOVES and you can add your tidbits yourself. Together we make the experience a worthwhile one. "Chess is like art; sometimes a masterpiece, but most of the time just worthless crap."

Did I say, all? No! One half was still left out... because otherwise this blog would be even more way too long (and the other part isn't finished anyway). Did I come to the core of what I want to share with you? Maybe I did not yet achieve that. Using this format, I made a good step in the right direction, that's for sure. :-)


  1. Heinz,
    I like this picture of Tal. Classic.

  2. unfortunately Kasparov has not played chess again..good post, like this.