Whats a game worth?

Whats a game worth?

Aug 1, 2008, 3:52 AM |

"War is a continuation of politics by other means!"

Carl von Clausewitz

This famous quote has been interpreted many different ways by many different scholars, historians, bar room philosphers etc.

When I ponder it, I seem to come to the conclusion that politics is simply what war evolved into. Certainly politics can be a continuation of war by other (sometimes more sophisticated... sometimes not) means.

After all, when politicking doesn't work, war is often the result. But when war doesn't work, it's back to politics.

So which came first?


It's hard to imagine a universe that never ends... but harder still to imagine the edge of the universe!

Isn't it hard to imagine a world without chess? For some reason it is for me. The game just seems older than the hills for some reason. There is simply something that tastes like forever in the game.

So chess is a warlike game. Is chess a continuation of some form of politics between two people? Sure it's a game, but often times it feels like you are figuring something out, doesn't it? Some sort of ritualistic posturing in some imaginary culture?

Perhaps with the advent of internet chess the culture is not so imaginary. We have chess ratings and site rankings, tournaments and contests with results posted so everyone can see.

Many a forum thread has been sewn pontificating the deeper meaning of ratings. Why do we have them, what do they actually tell us.

How many of us have seen someone make a claim or statement in the forums, only to turn to their profile to see their rating, as if that might tell us how true his/her statement is? Perhaps it helps us decide how much validity we should give to this poster?

So just what is it your opponent is taking from you when he beats you? What is it he gains? As someone's rating soars past ours does he gain more validity in our chess culture?

Perhaps there is a little of this in our strange little world here at chess.com. Most of us wouldn't admit it, but we pay attention to ratings, and we seek to learn from those with higher ratings than our own.

Of course ratings are a crude way of measuring talent and understanding of chess, but results are hard to quantify, and it's the best we have.

I've often pondered how chess really breaks down when it comes to skill level. What makes someone better at chess?

Close as I can tell, it's three things working together. Intelligence, experience and will to win.

Gardner's theory of intelligence includes seven types of intelligence. They are linguistic, musical, spatial, bodily, interpersonal, intrapersonal and logico-mathematical. Certainly Spatial would be key in chess, as well as Logico-mathematical. Intelligence as it pertains to chess would seem to be a person's ability to calculate.

But it doesn't matter how intelligent someone is, there is a learning curve to chess. Pure intelligence simply can not make up for experience (though it can learn quicker from experience... the three keys to chess intertwine at the edges). A person who has been playing for 5 days is simply in over his head playing a person who has been playing for 5 years.

But the most intriguing aspect to chess ability to me is someone's will to win. It's the one thing we simply can't learn from someone else, and it's often where we underestimate our opponents. Our opponents "Will to Win" factor can often make the difference between the game feeling like a friendly walk through the park, or World War III.

Will to win is the adrenaline of the chess board. It amplifies your strengths, and sometimes can help cover your weaknesses.

Tony Miles' 'Will to Win' factor always impressed me. Playing through his games I could almost feel his Will working the board.

The following is a game he should have lost. It's thought by many to be a cautionary tale for those in winning positions, to remind them the urgency of finishing off your opponent. I like to think of it as a testament to one man's refusal to lose.