Lee Sedol Retirement Sends Shockwaves Throughout Gaming World

The announced retirement of Go champion Lee Sedol


Lee Sedol plays the first move in the first game of the AlphaGo series

has sent shock waves through not only the Go community. In 2016, Lee, who was considered the best Go player in the world, lost a set of matches 4-1 against AlphaGo, an AI system developed by the Google-owned company DeepMind.


The fourth showdown between Lee Se-dol (right) and AlphaGo, the artificial intelligence designed by Google’s London-based firm DeepMind, in 2016. Photograph: EPA
(https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/27/go-game-master-quits-saying-machines-cannot-be-defeated?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_LINE)

“With the debut of AI in Go games, I’ve realized that I’m not at the top even if I become the number one through frantic efforts,” Lee told Yonhap News in Korea. “Even if I become the number one, there is an entity that cannot be defeated.” (https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/qvg7pb/go-pro-lee-sedol-quits-says-ai-is-too-tough-to-beat)

‘I kind of felt powerless’

Lee told the press at the time he had “misjudged” AlphaGo’s abilities: “I apologise for being unable to satisfy a lot of people’s expectations. I kind of felt powerless.”

Lee’s first realisation that AlphaGo was playing at a level w-a-a-a-y above him appears to have come at move W107 in Game 1, as noticed by this thread on Reddit. We’ve made a gif of the move below. AlphaGo, playing in white, drops a stone on the right side of the board about halfway up, at the lower diagonal from three black stones arranged vertically. It’s completely unexpected because it seems to be unconnected with the rest of the white strategy on the board.

Normally, Lee stays quite still during games, as he stares at the board and thinks.

Not this time.
‘Lee literally dropped his jaw. [His] reaction was not aired in the official YouTube live stream’

Redditor “balancetraveller” wrote:

“Lee literally dropped his jaw at W102. Lee’s reaction was not aired in the official YouTube live stream. The move is considered the tide-turning move.”

You can see a video of the move here, at timestamp 2.30.20. This gif shows that at first he seems paralysed for several seconds. Then he rocks backwards in surprise, before running a hand over his hair in dismay. For Lee, that’s a lot of physical drama in comparison to his normal, stoic demeanour:

It was Game 2 when AlphaGo’s superiority was confirmed, as noted by Wired. Move 37 by AlphaGo baffled everyone who saw it:

[European champion] Fan Hui thought the move was rather odd. But then he saw its beauty. “It’s not a human move. I’ve never seen a human play this move,” he says. “So beautiful.”

AlphaGo, playing black, puts a stone on the right-middle of the board, at a diagonal to an isolated white stone. This next photo shows Lee’s reaction: He gets up from his chair and walks away from the board.

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/qvg7pb/go-pro-lee-sedol-quits-says-ai-is-too-tough-to-beat

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/27/go-game-master-quits-saying-machines-cannot-be-defeated?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_LINE

https://www.businessinsider.com/deep-mind-alphago-ai-lee-sedol-south-korea-go-2019-11

https://www.businessinsider.com/video-lee-se-dol-reaction-to-move-37-and-w102-vs-alphago-2016-3?r=US&IR=T

Mozambique

Mozambique Man Accused of Using Sorcery to Cause Crocodile Attacks

November 25, 2019

By Tim Binnall

(http://www.binnallofamerica.com/)

In a strange story out of Mozambique, an elderly man has been driven from his village after neighbors claimed that he was a sorcerer who could control crocodiles.

https://www.coasttocoastam.com/article/mozambique-man-accused-of-using-sorcery-to-cause-crocodile-attacks

Mozambique

Written by: Bob Dylan and Jacques Levy

I like to spend some time in Mozambique

The sunny sky is aqua blue

And all the couples dancing cheek to cheek

It’s very nice to stay a week or two

There’s lot of pretty girls in Mozambique

And plenty time for good romance

And everybody likes to stop and speak

To give the special one you seek a chance

Or maybe say hello with just a glance

Lying next to her by the ocean

Reaching out and touching her hand

Whispering your secret emotion

Magic in a magical land

And when it’s time for leaving Mozambique

To say goodbye to sand and sea

You turn around to take a final peek

And you see why it’s so unique to be

Among the lovely people living free

Upon the beach of sunny Mozambique

Mozambique

When Bob Dylan liked to spend time in Mozambique

When Bob Dylan liked to spend time in Mozambique

November 22, 1963: A Day Which Lives In Infamy

The Day John Kennedy Died
Lou Reed
Produced by Sean Fullan & Lou Reed
Album The Blue Mask

I dreamed I was the President of these United States
I dreamed I replaced ignorance, stupidity and hate
I dreamed the perfect union and a perfect law, undenied
And most of all I dreamed I forgot the day John Kennedy died

I dreamed that I could do the job that others hadn’t done
I dreamed that I was uncorrupt and fair to everyone
I dreamed I wasn’t gross or base, a criminal on the take
And most of all I dreamed I forgot the day John Kennedy died

Oh, the day John Kennedy died
Oh, the day John Kennedy died

I remember where I was that day, I was Upstate in a bar
The team from the University was playing football on TV
Then the screen want dead and the announcer said
“there’s been a tragedy
There’s are unconfirmed reports the President’s been shot
And he may be dead or dying.”

Talking stopped, someone shouted “What,”
I ran out to the street
People were gathered everywhere saying
Did you hear what they said on TV
And then a guy in a Porsche with his radio hit his horn
And told us the news
He said, “the President’s dead, he was shot twice in the head
In Dallas, and they don’t know by whom.”

I dreamed I was the President of these United States
I dreamed I was young and smart and it was not a waste
I dreamed that there was a point to life and to the human race
I dreamed that I could somehow comprehend that someone
Shot him in the face

Oh, the day John Kennedy died
Oh, the day John Kennedy died
Oh, the day John Kennedy died
Oh, the day John Kennedy died

https://genius.com/Lou-reed-the-day-john-kennedy-died-lyrics

JFK Assassination Song: “The Day John Kennedy Died” by Lou Reed
Posted on May 21, 2013 by Dead Man

The Day John Kennedy Died” was written and recorded by Lou Reed and included on his 1982 album The Blue Mask. Released just before Lou Reed turned 40, this album was among the most acclaimed of his career. The instrumentation was relatively spare, as Reed led a stripped down guitar-bass-drums band with few overdubs. Actually, the album features twin lead guitars with Lou Reed and David Quine separated in the mix to great effect. Dispensing with the decadent “Rock N Roll Animal” persona that he had adopted in the 1970s, the songs on The Blue Mask were more direct and personal than on previous Lou Reed albums.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THE REST OF THE ARTICLE.

JFK Assassination Song: “The Day John Kennedy Died” by Lou Reed

Happy 30th Birthday to ‘The Blue Mask,’ Lou Reed’s Solo Masterpiece

16 Inspiring Songs That Honor JFK

From the Police to Tori Amos, check out these unique ways musicians paid tribute to the President

By Rolling Stone

The Human League, ‘Seconds’

The Moves That Matter Finale: The Tragedy of Chess

Jonathan writes, “Intellectual beauty is the lifeblood of chess rather than something that occurs as a one-off historic event. World-class games are replayed thousands of times to open-jawed amazement. But there are beautiful ideas permeating otherwise unremarkable games between players of all abilities. What makes the beauty of chess ideas not merely interesting, but also important, is that beauty and truth are so closely intertwined. If an idea does not ‘work’ it might be impressive, or even aesthetically appealing, but it can’t really be beautiful. The perception of intellectual truth and beauty, in chess at least, is not relative to the subjective intent of the players, but to aesthetic qualities of the ideas that feel more objective.”

“The tragedy of chess is that many use it to make themselves real and add depth and definition to their lives, but the game is not ultimately fit for this purpose. However culturally resonant it may be, it remains a game within the game of life, not the game of life itself.”

“Chess is not a waste of time, but time is scarce and there is more to life than chess.”

“Many of those who love the cultural contours that have surrounded the game for decades sense that its meaning and mystery and majesty is slowly ebbing away.”

“This book is a personal story, an expert guide to the chess world, and a philosophy of life in general.”

“What chess taught me, through contrasting the intense drama of the game with the relative monotony of life, is that beyond pleasure, purpose and even meaning, we have deep need to make ourselves feel real.”

“The sublest and most enduring gift that chess gave me is the awareness that we can feel gratitude for life regardless of the happiness it offers at any given moment.”

“On reflection, while one of many reasons to write this book was to share my deep love of chess, another was atonement. My chess career was characterised by significant success that fell short of complete fulfillment. Ever since I started a professional life outside of chess I wanted to finish this book to be at peace with the relationship between my past and my future.”

“I miss many things about playing chess regularly and seriously. I miss believing that each move in each game really matters, I miss the sense of strength and power and dignity that comes with playing well. I miss the felt sense of honour and self-overcoming when you make better decisions because you have learned your lessons well. I miss the clarity of purpose experienced at each moment of each game, the lucky escape from defeat and the thrill of the chase towards victory. And yet, I like what has become possible because I am no longer living through and for the game. I feel liberated from the centripetal pull of chess; it is easier now for my thoughts and feeling to move outwards rather than inwards.”

“Other people play the game of chess, and I feel like one of them now, as if the part of me that plays chess is an autonomous region of my psyche, rather than the sovereign part of my identity. My mind is still charmed by the game, but my soul feels free of it.”

Jonathan writes, “I prefer to end with the disarming thoughts of the fourteenth-century Persian poet Hafiz:

Tripping Over Joy

What is the difference
Between your experience of Existence
And that of a saint?

The saint knows
That the spiritual path
Is a sublime chess game with God

And that the Beloved
Has just made such a Fantastic Move
That the saint is now continually

Tripping over Joy
And bursting out in Laughter
And saying, ‘I Surrender!’

Whereas, my dear, I am afraid
you still think
You have a thousand serious moves.

This is the end of the ongoing review. I hope each of you who have read this review obtain the book. Although I have written extensively about the book the fact is that what was written is only the tip of an iceberg. This is one of, if not the most beautiful book about Chess I have had the good fortune to read. Much time has been spent thinking about the ideas contained in the wonderful book. Everyone who reads this book will profit from so doing.

https://omny.fm/shows/perpetual-chess-podcast/ep-150-gm-jonathan-rowson

https://www.theosthinktank.co.uk/comment/2017/12/08/the-sacred-1-jonathan-rowson

Shifting the social imaginary | Blog by Jonathan Rowson

Jonathan Rowson — Integrating Our Souls, Systems, and Society

http://dev.jeremysilman.com/shop/pc/Seven-Deadly-Chess-Sins-p3834.htm

The Moves That Matter Part 5: The King Ain’t Got No Hustle

HUSTLE

Jonathan Rowson writes, “I have a friend who never reads or watches anything recommended by only one person, but acts almost immediately on the advice of two or more. He enjoys looking out for such signals and waits for the world to reveal to him what he should do. He says he appreciates books and films all the more when he senses that they are meant for him, and while I am charmed by his methodology, I fear for his sanity. I thought of him when I started watching The Wire

on DVD in 2011. (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0306414/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1) The series is a gritty and sometimes harrowing take on the urban drug scene in Baltimore, USA, and is awash with swearing and violence. From that kind of description, I found it hard to imagine I could like it, yet with so many trusted friends telling me I would, I relented, and was pleasantly surprised.”

The opening theme music for HBO’s series The Wire is a song written by Tom Waits titled “Way Down in the Hole” (1987). Each year, during the series’ five-season run, the producers selected or solicited a different version of the song. As a series, The Wire is often interpreted as lacking a space for representations of Black spirituality. Each of the five seasons features complex institutional characterizations and explorations of the Street, the Port, the Law, the Hall (i.e., politics), the School, and/or the Paper (i.e., media). Through these institutional characters and the individual characters that inhabit, construct, and confront them, The Wire depicts urban America, writ large across the canvas of cultural and existential identity. For all of its institutional complexity, The Wire then serially marginalizes Black spirituality in favor of realism, naturalism, and some may argue, nihilism.1 “Way Down in the Hole” is a paratextual narrative that embodies this marginalization and creates a potential space for viewers (and listeners) of the show, one that frames each episode and the entire run, through literary and spiritual Black musical contexts. The multiple versions of “Way Down in the Hole” ultimately function as a marginalized repository for the literary and spiritual narratives that are connected to the series—narratives that become legible via intertextual analyses and in turn render visible The Wire’s least visible entities: Black spirituality and the Black Church.2 (https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1057/9781137305251_7)

Something similar happened to me some years after Jonathan decided to invest the time watching what has come to be on everyone’s short list of the best series to grace a screen. For many years I considered the best television series of the genre commonly known as ‘Cops and Robbers’, to be Homicide: Life on the Street


(https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0106028/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1)
The Wire rivaled Homicide and may have even superseded it. Ironically, both series are set in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

“The characters are raw and compelling and their dialect electrically authentic. I remember being irritated to find that audiences in America watched some films set in Scotland, like Trainspotting, with English subtitles, but the street language of The Wire is also so far from conventional English that I initially had to do the same. Still, in an early episode I knew I had made a good decision to watch when I saw one young drug dealer – D’Angelo – teach two others – Bodie and Wallace – how to play chess.


“Ya’ll can’t be playing checkers on no chessboard yo!” – D’Angelo Barksdale

this particular scene is an extraordinary work of art; a beguiling mixture of social commentary, existential despair, youthful hope and dark humour.”

“D’Angelo describes the king as ‘the kingpin’ and says that the aim of the game is to protect your own king and get the king of the other side. He says the king can move one square in any direction but that he doesn’t have ‘hustle’.”

“There are many worlds within that word: hustle. As a noun and a verb, hustle hints at a relationship between a setting and a plot, a juxtaposition that defines the moral ambiguity of characters in The Wire. Describing the king’s lack of hustle is a succinct way to say that the king is rarely out on the streets; in professional terms he does not have to solicit clients. The expression also means the king does not directly display force, he’s not typically aggressive, he’s not illicit, not in a hurry, but equally he doesn’t have what you might need to get things done. ‘Hustle’ is sometimes admirable, not least when it seems necessary; the word conveys the spirit of entrepreneurial transgression needed to survive.”

“The king

may not have hustle, but nonetheless he survives for longer than the other pieces by definition. Checkmate – from the Persian Shah Mat – literally means the king is dead. ‘The man’ is therefore the ultimate target of attack, but he is surrounded by people who will give their lives to protect him, and often do. Most chess endgames when few pieces remain, are characterized by the king suddenly becoming emboldened, partly because with fewer enemies around it is relatively safe to come out ‘into the street’, but also because there are fewer allies left to do his hustling for him.”
“The realization that life-and-death chances are not fairly distributed is what makes the chess scene from The Wire so poignant.”


D’Angelo (center), explaining chess to Wallace (left) and Bodie (right), triangulated in a
way as to distinguish a hierarchy within the Barksdale crew

“As the rules of the game are described by D’Angelo, Wallace and Bodie can see their own lives in the game’s metaphors, giving rise to an open question of who or what exactly they are living in service of, and why.”
“Bodie, himself a pawn in the drug wars, points to the pawns, and asks about ‘them little baldheaded bitches’. D’Angelo explains that they are like soldiers and shows how they move, saying they are out on the ‘front lines’. Bodie gets excited by the possibility of pawns getting promoted, about becoming ‘top dog’ if he can ‘get to the end’. D’Angelo is quick to disabuse him of the probability of that happening, implying that they often get ‘capped’ (shot) quickly.”


‘The queen ain’t no bitch. She got all the moves.’
(https://www.kingpinchess.net/2010/02/the-queen-aint-no-bitch-she-got-all-the-moves/)

“Bodie shoots back that this may not happen if they are ‘smart-ass pawns’, which he himself later proves to be, surviving and rising through the ranks until series four. Wallace, on the other hand, proved as vulnerable as most pawns do, and died a few episodes later when he was just sixteen after trying to leave the drug scene. Bodie, Wallace’s friend, was also his assassin.”

“The writers loop back to this scene in series four when Bodie is speaking with Detective McNulty and considering his next move. Bodie is resolute about not being a snitch and conveys that he has done everything he was told to do by his bosses since he was thirteen, including killing his friend Wallace. McNulty know the context and has clearly grown to admire Bodie, calling him ‘a soldier’, as D’Angelo called the pawns earlier. At that moment, after years of imagining he might somehow escape or transform his fate, Bodie sees the truth of being a pawn more clearly, and realizes he is still ‘one of them little bitches on the chessboard.’ McNulty clarifies: ‘Pawns.'”

“In an early chess manual published around the middle of the sixtenenth century, Francois-Andre Philidor

describes pawns as ‘the soul of chess’, and this line is widely quoted by chess teachers and commentators because we know and feel its truth. Pawns are not the most powerful pieces, and they are mostly at the mercy of events, but they have a certain amount of hustle and they both set the scene and shape the narrative.
What occurred to me while watching The Wire is that most of us are pawns to a greater or lesser extent. We have our moments of power, fame and glory, but we are always potentially alone and vulnerable to forces beyond our control. We are the soul of the game of life, and our lives are precious not in spite of our fragility, but because of it.”

The Moves That Matter Part 4: Chess and Education

“A chess position can be thought of as a system, and probably should be to fully appreciate the game’s educational value. Systems thinking is a form of perception above all, imbued with understanding that wholes have properties that do not exist in the sum of their parts, and that everything is connected to a greater or lesser extent. Defining ‘system’ too tightly risks reifying it into one thing of many, which obscures the premise of systems thinking namely that the fundamental features of life are not things at all, but more like relational processes.”

“In chess the system is deceptively simple and the key question is where its boundaries lie.”

“Perhaps the challenge of thinking systemically explains why chess is so difficult. Indeed, the comedian Stephen Fry

aptly described chess as ‘ludicrously difficult’. If a person doesn’t like things that are difficult, they won’t like chess, which is fundamentally about loving the struggle of reaching beyond our grasp.”

“Since ludicrous difficulty and inevitable mistakes are two of chess’s main assets, it is no wonder that chess is a stiff marketing challenge. In effect, the unvarnished selling pitch would be something like: ‘Play chess! It is extremely difficult and absolutely maddening. You will definitely screw up and possibly feel like an idiot, but you will love it. Hurry while stocks last. Two players for the price of one!’ Of course, in reality, chess promoters sell the sizzle and not the sausage, by foregrounding themes of depth, strategy, play and intelligence. I wonder, however, if something might be gained by making more of the game’s role in helping us experience difficulty and mistakes, which is the character-forming terrain where educational value is deepest.”

The Need For Evidence

“On a frosty day in February 2013 I was one of nine people gently checking each other out across a round table in a high-rise office building on the south side of the River Thames. The meeting was full of words like ‘power’, ‘confidence’ and ‘fidelity’. I felt like I had skin in the game because there was a lot of money at stake; but this was not a legal office and these were not divorce proceedings. The agenda was how to devise and complete a rigorous quantitative study of chess in education. ‘Power’ is a statistical term conveying the likelihood that the study would detect an effect of chess on education if there was an effect there to be found. ‘Confidence’ was about the robustness of any such a finding, and ‘fidelity’ was about the process of the chess intervention being consistent and true to its purpose in each place it was tested.”

“The four academics from the Institute of Education at the University of London knew they would potentially be doing the research, and they seemed dispassionate, as if the meeting was an extension of their day jobs. Two senior staff from the Educational Endowment Foundation looked under thirty, but they would be the ones to establish whether the project was viable and fundable. They seemed excited, as if they had already been given a green light from elsewhere and knew the right answer was yes, but they had to be seen to be doing their due diligence. And then there was a friend of mine, the director of the chess and education charity Chess in Schools and Communities (CSC), Malcholm Pein,

who had developed a comprehensive chess teaching programme over several years and had access to the schools where the research would happen. The potential prize was evidence not only that chess in schools made sense, but that it might make particularly good sense for the poorest children; a dream result for those like Malcolm who love chess as much as they dislike inequality of opportunity. And then there were Malcolm’s wingmen conferring moral and intellectual support: Sandy Ruxton, an experienced policy researcher and chess aficionado, and me, deeply grateful to have grown up playing chess in a regular state school, and hoping others would have similar opportunities.”

“The conversation did not go quite as I hoped it might. Often despite their better judgment, educational professionals are institutionally bound to care more about test results than the social and emotional contexts and thinking dispositions that arguably give rise to them. A policymaker spending public money is acutely aware of being accountable to the taxpayer, so they need to know that educational gains are caused by the active ingredients in chess as such, and not by the mere fact that pupils are, for instance, sitting down and taking a breather from normal lessons, or because the time allocated to chess reduces or eliminates something else that is having a negative impact.”

“The agenda of the meeting is therefore best understood in juxtaposition with suggestions about all the things that should be taught in schools. Those who have sound reasons for suggesting the inclusion of one thing rarely have good reasons for justifying the exclusion of another.”

“Prior to any formal research, few would doubt that chess might make a valuable contribution to educational outcomes. On the face of it, the game should teach us how to think under pressure, to plan, to concentrate, to improve out reasoning by considering competing ideas, and so forth; the fact the game has wide cultural and historical resonance and is so cheap and inclusive adds to its viability. However, at the time of the meeting, and without broader cultural support for the game that reduces the need for validation research, there was little compelling evidence that chess in particular should be part of a national curriculum or a major feature of school life.”

“In one sense the meeting went extremely well and the research proceeded as planned, but I remember feeling quiet desperation at the time, as if what the room seemed to be agreeing to do risked missing the point entirely, The three chess players in the room knew that chess informed education in a profound way and we were eager to share stories that might begin to explain why. However, there was nothing about the discussion or the proposed research process that made our experience seem relevant. We were welcome to be there, and we chipped in now and again, but in terms of what the funders were hunting for, and the tools their academic hunters were planning to use, we were bystanders with no relevant insight or formal standing to influence events.”

“The money eventually rewarded for the project was £689,150, which is significantly better than a slap in the face with a wet fish, and gives some idea of the ambitious scale of the research. The aim was to measure the effectiveness of CSC’s thirty-week programme on 4,009 Year 5 (age nine to ten) pupils across one hundred schools with varying socio-economic intakes in terms of their standard attainment test (SAT’s) results in mathematics at the end of that Year 5, compared to control groups, with some secondary outcomes relating to English and science also considered. The evaluation of this landmark study into chess and education was published towards the end of 2016. The conclusion was effectively as follows; no evidence of effect.”

(John Jerrim, Lindsey Macmillan, John Micklewright, Mary Sawtell and Meg Wiggins (independent evaluators), Chess in Schools evaluation report and executive summary, Education Endowment Foundation, July 2016. Available at https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/public/filesProjects/Evaluation_Reports/EEF_Project_Report_Chess_in_Schools.pdf)

Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2
Pink Floyd
Produced by Roger Waters, James Guthrie, David Gilmour & 1 more
Album The Wall

[Verse 1: Roger Waters & David Gilmour]
We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teacher, leave them kids alone
Hey! Teacher! Leave them kids alone!

[Chorus: Roger Waters & David Gilmour]
All in all, it’s just another brick in the wall
All in all, you’re just another brick in the wall

[Verse 2: Islington Green School Students]
We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey! Teacher! Leave us kids alone!

[Chorus: Islington Green School Students]
All in all, you’re just another brick in the wall
All in all, you’re just another brick in the wall

[Guitar Solo]

[Outro: Roger Waters]
Wrong, do it again! *Children playing*
Wrong, do it again!
If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding!
(Wrong, do it again!)
How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?
(Wrong, do it again!)
You! Yes! You behind the bike sheds! Stand still, laddie!
(If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding!
How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?)
(You! Yes! You behind the bike sheds! Stand still, laddie!)
*Children playing*
*Phone beeping sound*

https://genius.com/Pink-floyd-another-brick-in-the-wall-pt-2-lyrics

The Moves That Matter Part 3: Chess is a Game for Hooligans

On page 1 of the Introduction to The Moves That Matter

it is written, “Chess is just a game…” There are those who are up in arms about that statement, ready to shout out, “Chess is more than a game!” Many proclaim the Royal game to be much more than a game, yet the statement above is the bottom line. The sentence continues, “…in the way that the heart is just a muscle.” The paragraph continues, “There is a muscle that pumps blood around the body, but it is the heart that sustains life, signifies love and situates courage. There is a game with sixty-four squares, thirty-two pieces and some rules, but it is chess that has become a metaphor for human battles big and small, an enchanting mirror for the psyche, and an icon for all that is deep and difficult.”

“Chess is not the meaning of life, but it does simulate conditions for a life of meaning. The game is sublimated warfare and chess players are compelled to kill, but unlike the gruesome horror of war, the martial conceit of chess allows us to experience aesthetic liberation. Every battle is a unique geometric story where two protagonists seek to destroy each other, but the underlying logic feels beautiful and true. The more intense the battle and the more sublime the ideas, the more we experience power and freedom.”

“No wonder chess has long served as the touchstone of choice for the competitive tension that defines business, sport and politics. The themes of planning ahead, knowing the opponent, anticipating responses and sacrificing for future gains are adaptable, and meaningful for anybody familiar with the symbolism of chess, even if they have never pushed a pawn.”

“However, the connection between chess and life is usually assumed to be almost exclusively about the application of strategic thinking. Too little has been written about how chess evokes and illustrates emotional and existential issues. There is more to be said, for instance, about the anguish of defeat, the craving for status, the joy of reaching beyond our grasp, and the sublime beauty of an unexpected winning idea.”

This book is a philosophical offering on chess as a metaphor for life as a whole.”

“I have learned that it is precisely because chess is both something that doesn’t really matter and something that matters enormously that the game is something else too: a gateway to the enigma of life. This book is about the challenge of living well in the context of that enigma.”

“The main bridge between those worlds is metaphor, and the metaphorical significance of chess has been the story of my life. In many ways I owe chess everything.”

What is Chess?

“…it’s the experience of concentration – the thing I miss most about no longer being an active player.”

“Chess is a test of the mind and will under social pressure. The game is like a drug and we play it to experience a change in consciousness.”

“…my chess experience tells me that concentration is more about summoning layers of oneself as source’s of strength, while simultaneously purging psychic debris.”

“Chess allows you to do and be things you cannot be in the real world.”

“Chess is not a waste of time, but time is scarce and there is more to life than chess.”

“Perhaps a love of chess is love for the mood of the game. If you enter a chess tournament hall and sit and watch what is happening, there is not usually much to report, but there is definitely a mood to be sensed and appreciated. I experience the mood as ambient incidence; the palpable intrigue that arises when, on every board, something is under way and about to happen. I have come to love this state of expectation in which there is a sense of being held tightly in perpetual motion. When I say the meaning of chess is implicit, I am referring to that experience of unfolding significance.
Implicit comes from the Latin root ‘entwined’. The point is not that life’s meaning is interwoven in chess positions, like pesto in pasta or honey in porridge. The implicit meaning in chess is – if you’ll permit me – more like the meaning that arises when two bodies become entwined in love-making. Meaning arises not because two things are together but because the experience of intercourse is like becoming a different form of life, and sometimes so intense that we feel altered, transformed and, all being well, transcendent. Although sex is considered explicit, the meaning of the act is implicit – entwined in the process itself. The act subsumes most of the meaning of talking about it, and f-ing the ineffable is rarely wise. I hesitate to say that chess is better than sex, but it is perhaps more reliable. Chess suspends us in a heightened state of luscious cogitation for hours at a time, like a diffuse, prolonged and strictly silent orgasm.”

“Chess can be seen as an as-if ritual. At some level we know the rewards of the game do not ultimately matter, and yet we play as if they do, and thereby evoke qualities of mind and character that might otherwise lie dormant. Chess does not matter until we make it matter and it matters all the more for that.”

“Chess is a study in truth and beauty, but it is also a violent contact sport; a geometric cage fight. What makes contact are two psyches obliged to try to destroy each other, and in that confrontation there is nowhere to hide. ll the violence is sublimated, but a sense of latent terror is always present. At moments, in the heat of the battle, Clockwork Orange

– style sadism can emerge. A dark excitement can arise from figuratively crushing our opponent, as if we were nonchalantly kicking them in the head while laughing. These are dark thoughts, I know, but they are not gratuitous. Grandmaster Boris Gulko

makes mild and peaceful impression in person, but he famously advised one (of) his students: ‘Understand, chess is a game for hooligans.’

“The tragedy of chess is that many use it to make themselves real and add depth and definition to their lives, but the game is not ultimately fit for this purpose. However culturally resonant it may be, it remains a game within the game of life, not the game of life itself.”