500+ Friends and Still Lonely? Smothered Mate and The City
It's quite ironic that many people living in New York City feel so alone. Considering that New York City has the densest population in the United States with 8,175,133 distributed over a land area of just 305 square miles, you would think that loneliness and finding genuine friendship and companionship would be the least of one's troubles.
Major cities in general share this dichotomy, as such a general truth can be found in the statement, “quantity of contact does not translate into quality of contact.” An overly populated place often presents a conundrum; a person can be surrounded by people and still feel friendless and helpless. Even still, many people will have five hundred-plus friends on social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, and still be single, unemployed, and have no one to call during a late night emergency or friendly consolation. This is the king's dilemma when he's facing smothered mate.
A smothered mate is a checkmate delivered by a knight in which the mated king is unable to move because he is surrounded (or smothered) by his own pieces.
While chess is driven by acute attacks, it is a game of territorial control. Checkmate is the taking away of space; creating a situation where the enemy king has no where to reside.
From a novice's point-of-view the natural inclination when under attack is to run or hide behind fellow comrades. While the former may be an option, a king hiding closely behind its men is often self-sabotage, a move that limits the king's mobility and gives the opponent an opportunity to win by smothered mate.
The solution to this common problem, in chess as in life, is to communicate effectively with those around you. When working on a project or task, delegate responsibilities to individuals on your team. In chess, your pieces should be in communication with one another; interacting in ways that carryout defined roles.
You're the king, so put your men to work:
- Are your rooks maintaining open files?
- Do you have a knight staked out to guard the king's castle?
- Put your pawns to work by being outposts for pieces.
- Identify potential pawn "candidates" for promotion.
So if you are "smothered in the city," just know that your friends genuinely want to help, they just need you to communicate your needs. And if you are feeling a little lonely, seek out a local chess club!
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