Hall of Mirrors

Chess has this in common with the study of quantum phenomena, that the difficulty in grasping the whole is caused by the intricacy and complexity of the subconstituent parts.

We know that chess is determinate. Among the myriad pathways the game can follow there are those paths which lead to a draw, and the lost game first arises when a player strays off those paths.

Described thusly, chess seems cut and dried, devoid of interest. But the reality in this world of struggle is that the very number of pathways takes us to that quantum point where quantity is quality. The pursuit of ultimate truth, of the “best move” in the opening that characterized much of 20th century chess turns out to be sterile. Classical practitioners like Em. Lasker and modern practitioners like Magnus Carlsen know that there are many paths through the Hall of Mirrors, and that it matters not that one found the “best” path, but merely that one made one’s opponent lose the way.

The beginner should never be afraid to calculate in the opening and come to his or her own conclusions. Here’s an old game where relying on calculation I found the adequate if not “best” variation staring with 9. Nd2 after which my opponent found himself befuddled and eventually losing a pawn, which turned somehow into a lost knight.

Side note: I’ve been told there are two pages on the “Fishing Pole” (common name of Black’s … Ng4 in various double-king-pawn games where the Black knight is supported by … h5 and attacked by … h3 and maintained by the mate threat after h3xg4 h5xg4 if the Nf3 were to move)  in a new John Watson book and that he names Brian Douglas Wall of Denver as the number one practitioner.

Jacques Delaguerre