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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

What I'm Thinking

It has been several days since I made my 5th move in my game of bloggers chess. Rook is taking his good time in ruminating over his answer, and that has given me extra time to likewise stare at the position and to reach a few conclusions that might not otherwise have seen the light of day, and I don't know whether that is good or bad.

You would think that this current position, shown above, can't help but be simple and no big thing. It can be reached almost instantly and with almost no thinking, and the way by which it is reached looks quite logical. Yet I doubt that in all my Ruys I have ever played the move that clinched this position, Rook's last, his 4 ...P-QN4. If I have it was in a few skittle games in my earliest days, before I learned what is regularly played, and I have rarely seen anyone else play the move either. It is regarded as premature to deliver that second boot to the rear of White's Bishop so quickly. Instead it is thought to be best to hold that tactic in reserve for a few moves more. Yet, in this extra time that Rook is so generously allowing, I can see no clear refutation of his move, and I keep asking, why should this be?

4 ...P-QN4 may be premature but it looks feasible enough for Rook to reach the more usual continuations later on anyway, through transposition of moves. So is his move fully playable after all? Has Rook just made a great discovery and contribution to chess theory? And is this a case, then, of players of all strengths and over many years just blindly following custom and fashion? Or, if the move can be proven to be bad right off, does that mean that in my failure to see it, at my ever-lengthening age have my eyes, chessically or otherwise, gotten even blearier than I had thought? What is happening here?

There are interesting psychological considerations involved in taking advantage of the properties of a weblog by saying these things with full knowledge that while he is deciding on his next shot, Rook can easily check this site and see ahead of time just what I'm thinking. But would that be helpful to him?

I don't see how, as for one thing I can justifiably avoid saying what I would do if I were in his shoes, by pointing out, truthfully if not also a little disengenuously from the point of view of making a fair argument, that I wouldn't have played his 4th move in the first place -- not because of calculations but out of pure habit.

Would saying these things be helpful to me instead, from the point of view of possibly influencing Rook to his detriment? I doubt that, too. If his 4th move is actually bad, and if I can find a way to show that, then it's only to the good, because that would be instructive for both of us. This is one of the most basic positions in the Ruy Lopez, and, with the possible exception of the Sicilian Defence, the Ruy is probably the most popular of all the King-side openings. And besides, just as I have mainly my instincts developed over years to help me along, Rook has his fresher and unbiased eyes plus a monster genie that he can readily call out of the bottle and that he mysteriously calls his "resources."

Meanwhile, as I keep looking at this position, it occurs to me that Black's most basic problem in the Ruy might lie in deciding how to deploy his Bishops. I wonder if I have ever before thought of things that way.

So here, Black has the choice of keeping his QB on the Q-side by playing ...B-Kt2 or waiting for a chance to swing it over to the K-Side closer to my King by an eventual ...B-K3 or ...B-KKt5. And he also has to decide whether he should try to get his other B, the KB, up to his QB4 so as to have more of a say in contesting the all-important center, or should he hold it closer to his King by playing ...B-K2? And both of these are big decisions that Rook is making right NOW.

Those are purely strategic considerations. Meanwhile, it's interesting that we are near the brink of some tactics that are as dangerous for me as they are for Rook, two traps, one within the other. The snare that would threaten me is so old that it is called “the Noah's Ark trap." Rook has cleared the way for these but only I can set out the bait, and I think I will avoid doing that, because otherwise next he would be the one who would decide which of us thereby drops into the toilet, and maybe you can see how for me that would not be a very thrilling state of affairs.


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