Why Chess is a Lost Art

Why Chess is a Lost Art

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In the recent "Chess960" tournament that just concluded in the world's chess capital, the thirteenth world chess champion Garry Kasparov criticized a move by the winner of the tournament in that it was something he would "never have even considered." And, indeed, throughout our royal game's history, there have been complaints by even the very best of chess dying out because of the precise way that it's approached. However, I don't find many of my peers sharing this viewpoint; in fact, it's seemingly only those from the older generations like Garry that lament the current state of our game. But I believe like them that chess is a dead art, and to prove my view, I'd like to present an exception to the rule so to speak and then to explain why it's just that: a game where intuition plays the main part.

Specifically, I think that chess isn't quite the same anymore because it doesn't allow for instinct to remain supreme. With the following game, I played purely on intuition in a battle of ideas:

The game featured Philidor's defense, where my opponent essayed an unusual choice of relinquishing the central tension with ...exd4. And my thought process was exactly as follows: He's going to attack my Bishop with his Knight but the e5 square is no good because it'll just get kicked out from there; therefore, his idea must be to place it on the b6 one. But on b6 it's out of the game; there's a well-known idea that a Knight on the b6 square or it's equivalent (b3, g3, g6) is worse off than a Knight on the rim, and I was planning on trying to prove this maxim while my adversary was attempting to debunk it.

Furthermore, he couldn't kick my own Knight out of d4 before castling because of Bb5+, which is a theme stemming from Najdorf's variation; the check forces the concession of the f5 square for my Knight, so he had to wait for this thrust. But in this case I've enough time for the f2-f4 push before dropping my Knight back from where it came, and for good measure (as well as for developing my last remaining minor piece) I further restrict his wayward Knight by b2-b3. Indeed, he finds what appears at first glance to be a nice counter shot with c6-c5-c4; however, he concedes me the d4-square back again, and even on his best move ...Bxf3 (eliminating that jumpy Knight) before Bc5+, I'd have a good game after my Pawn recaptures (else Bishop check and then ...Nf2+) because of his offsides piece. 

So, it was a pleasurable game to play, but as I said, the general rule is that chess duels don't turn out as such. For one thing, the opening he chose wasn't worked out theoretically, and as the opening leads inevitably to the middlegame, we had a clash of beliefs regarding the ensuing struggle with his Knight on the b6 square. And secondly - which is a natural following of the first point - the battle didn't get evaluated and hence decided by concrete calculation; on the contrary, my decision was purely based on intuition (I didn't anticipate the push of his c-pawn until after it occurred). My instinct was correct, which is what used to give me happiness by playing chess; nowadays, though, such a mode of thinking is essentially shut down in favor of a more rote calculation of things as they stand. 

Therefore, chess as a lost art is something that not only the old masters and such lament about, but even for me, it's something that's quite prevalent. As a whole, intuitive thinking gets lost in the shuffle and a more brute-force method comes to the forefront. And unlike Garry, I don't think that Chess960's the answer to our quandary; on the contrary, I believe that there are other ways of combatting this problem that don't resort to playing a different version of our royal game altogether. Watching a chess broadcast to relax certainly has its merits, but for those like me who think differently from most players nowadays, continuing to try our hand at a long-gone creative endeavor is like throwing paint at a wall and seeing if it sticks.