The Art and Science of Chess

The Art and Science of Chess

By Bashar AbdulWaheed Kolapo 

Zbigniew Brezinszki, former US National Security Advisor to Jimmy Carter, author of The Grand Chessboard, a book about America’s primacy and its geostrategic imperatives, the man alleged to be the main architect of the collapse of the Soviet Union, played fine chess, though not at the highest level.

Chess is a beautiful game. There are new things to learn in every game, the renowned Prof. Albert Simon compared chess to sumo wrestling, many other analogies can be drawn from chess.

At the beginning of a sumo wrestling match, contenders and pretenders snarl and throw salt at each other.

Paired with a better chess player, the fear of what the opponent might do to you is a sure banker that you’ve lost the contest before pushing a pawn.

I think it was Bobby Fisher, one the youngest grandmasters at the age of seventeen, who said he wore a clown’s face to cloak his betraying emotions, he also learnt a particular language to tap into chess publications. Unlike in the Internet era where chess publications are just a click away, in those days, you learn faster by being pummelled by even a schoolboy.

You can be ahead an opponent with a Rook and three pawns, that’s eight points, and still not win. Positioning matters more than numbers, the latter is a vanity metric. Just as in football, a team reduced to ten men can carry the day, any day. But there’s strength in numbers.

A newly initiated player into the chess world is often overwhelmed by the number of things to be considered, the pitfalls of not developing pieces on time, the concentric movements in the middle game, the true nature of the strengths and weaknesses of pieces, the conquest of space, how to combine two to three pieces, and such.

Brain power is a vital resource, the ability to see and plan, say, 7 moves ahead with their multiple variations is indicative of a player’s substance, in other circles he’s just a ‘fish’. A mediocre at best.

Chess is a science and an art. A professional sport and a game of fun.


Bashar is a student of life. 

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