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Monsters Inc.

Monsters Inc.

Sep 21, 2009, 7:54 AM 0

The sleep of reason', wrote Goya on one of his most famous etchings, 'produces monsters.' Call them monsters, bugbears, delusional visions, paranoia, but whatever they are, they tend to turn up in all sorts of ways and in all sorts of things, including chess. Every player should be familiar with the uneasiness that the offer of a piece sacrifice inspires, especially if it threatens to open lines leading to your king. Often, judging the accuracy of the sacrifice is a difficult process because reason (and consequently the ability to calculate properly and keep the monsters at bay) is swamped by fears, whose emotional power carries more currency with the brain than the clear, pure light of simple logic. Professor Richard Dawkins in his 1991 Christmas lectures at the Royal Academy does a little experiment to illustrate the difficult but ultimately rewarding trust in logic over irrational fear - he swings a pendulum suspending a canon ball in his face, having first ascertained that it cannot possibly reach as far as his nose. As the pendulum takes a swing at his face, you can see him twitch and try to move away, but he stays right there as the ball comes within the fraction of an inch of his nose and then moves away...He tells his audience of children 'While every muscle in my body tried to follow the brain's irrational instincts and move away, my trust in logic and science prevailed.'

I am posting this game (time control - 30 minutes), which illustrates the concept very well, I think. In move 14, I am made the offer of a piece which I accept hestitatingly, by trusting logic over irrational dread, just like Dawkins and his canonball. As the smoke clears out in a couple of moves, the real picture emerges and it is my opponent's king that's running for his dear life...

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