The primaries and Kasparov

CM ArnieChipmunk
0 | Chess Event Coverage
For years, Kasparov has claimed that life imitates chess. Until now, I've had a difficult time believing this, if only because life was here before chess, and because chess is a model of life rather than the other way around.

by Arne Moll

I know, it's a pretty childish argument, but for some reason this has been a good enough reason so far not to devour How life imitates chess like the rest of Kasparov's books; I still have to read it.

This morning I saw the news: Barack Obama, despite a small loss in the state of Indiana, is "pushing ahead of Hillary Clinton in the American primaries for the presidency. In all analyses it's stressed that Obama, numerically speaking, in fact cannot lose this race anymore. The pressure on Clinton to give up the fight is increasing. But Clinton doesn't give up. According to the papers, she will keep on fighting until the bitter end.

What does this remind you of? I had to think of the chess player who, in a completely lost position and he knows it, still decides to play on. Hoping for a small mistake, but especially hoping the opponent will become reckless or, worse, annoyed by the fact that his opponent shows so little respect.

After all, resigning is the ultimate act of showing respect. I myself have experienced numerous times that the fatal cocktail of diminishing concentration, recklessness and annoyance have resulted in a loss even from a completely won position. There are even opening systems that seem to exploit this lack of respect: recall Tony Miles' provocative 1...a6 against Karpov, or Hikaru Nakamura's recent 1.e4 e5 2.Qh5!?

Of course, the moves are completely legal and nobody can complain on formal grounds, but you have to be an enormous formalist to deny that this psychological mechanism plays some kind of role in chess.

And now, apparently, Hillary Clinton tries the same tactics, and that's definitely smarter than many people (non-chess players) will think. I have to admit I know too little of Barack Obama to be able to judge how he and his campaign team will react to this, and that is not my point either. Judging only on my own experience, I suspect Clinton's chances to be bigger than people might think.

And so, if Clinton should win - against all odds - I'll change my mind and read Kasparov's book after all.
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