Monday, July 18, 2005

When I've a smattering of elemental strategy

Last weekend DOB finally got to watch his first Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, The Pirates of Penzance, and is now officially hooked, too. We can't wait until we can go to a live performance.

He decided to return the favor by introducing me to playing chess. Not that I didn't know how to play chess in the which-piece-can-move-where sense, but since I had not the faintest notion of strategy I just saw it as a game of little plastic blobs wandering around, randomly bumping each other off, and it wasn't much fun. Now I have learned enough that I know his pieces, at least, are not wandering around randomly. Mine still wander a bit, but I'm learning. Unfortunately I've learned enough that he won't help me anymore, but not enough to win.

My other difficulty is that, especially as the board gets thinner, I start personifying my pieces too much. The king, tattered and beleaguered, his army scattered, his defenses gone, yet strives heroically to evade the encroaching enemy. Finding himself cornered, he turns on his attackers and takes one of them down with him. Though he dies in battle gory, he shall live in song and story. Somehow it seems to arouse more emotion than belongs in a game of chess.

Then again, DOB says I play much more cunningly at the end of the game than I do at the beginning. So maybe I should ascribe more personality to all my pieces.

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