Chess and World Peace

Dec 3, 2010, 2:22 PM |


In the past few months I have gotten to playing chess again. If you didn't know this about me, this is something that I did when I was much, much younger, and then put it on a shelf for a while. I transferred to USS Mustin (yes, I am in the US Navy), where people enjoyed playing and one day I played with a few of the people there. The universe decided I needed some rest (shattered the bones in my elbow), and so chess has taken up a lot more of my time lately. 


I've learned a couple of things about myself in doing so, but the one I want to talk about is this:


-I don't like taking a draw. I don't like offering a draw. I'm not sure why, exactly, but you can ask my ex-wife or any of my girlfriends to expound on this. 


The website I play chess on is pretty simple. You can play chess either "live" (in real time) with someone else on the site, or you can play "turn-based" (like correspondence chess). I typically have 5-15 turn-based games going, and I drop in to play a few short live games every day. There are all sorts of other things on this site, but this is not an advertisement.


Last week I logged in to live chess to play a few games. like any other day. One, when they log in, can either pick a game that shows up as a dot on a graph where the x-axis is the approximate time for each player, and the y-axis is the rating (how strong) of the player who created the game. The when you hover your mouse arrow over the dot, it shows you more boring chess details, and the handle of the person. That's all you can see of the person. On a normal day, I don't create games. I like to pick and choose my opponents mostly because I'm afraid of losing. I didn't see any games I wanted, and created one, open to any and all players. Five minutes per player to think with 5 seconds of "bonus time" (time you get after each move). I waited no more than a second or two before a game was created. 


I had no idea how to pronounce this man's handle. I saw his national flag displayed next to his name as they are for all of us. I didn't recognize it at first. We played a good game, at the end it came down to both of us having a rook and a king, and we agreed to draw the game. I checked his flag- the man was from Iran.


A day or two pass, and I think an awful lot about that game. I wish I could have learned something about this man. 


I came back from my physical therapy a couple of days later and, once again, logged in to play a game or two. I have a fondness for creating games now, a little bit less fear of losing, and I make a long one. 40 minutes for each player to think. I quickly get a match for my game and we start off. I'm playing white, I start with my queen's pawn as I often do. We take our time developing. We reach the middle-game, and about an hour in we head into the end game. Material is even, there aren't many possibilities positionally, we are both well fortified. This has been one of the more mentally taxing and evenly matched games that I have played yet! So I do something I don't often do, I offer a draw, it makes sense.


"This is nice, just play it out." My fellow chess player says.


That's when I notice the flag. Pakistan. 


You're right, this is nice.


Our parent's wars don't have to be our wars. From the moment we're born we are taught that Pakistan is after India! The middle east is once again in shambles! How dare they try to get nuclear weapons! It doesn't matter if they are pursuing nuclear energy, they can't be trusted! No problems in the middle east can be solved! is harboring Terrorists! 


I can go on like this, but I won't. I'll just say that last week I met with two people that our political leaders tell me not to like.


And I had a great time.