How to Weather Chess Storms

Every chess player must develop an acute sense of danger. Here’s a short word about it.

In the course of a game, each move changes the situation on the chessboard. Some pieces get a greater radius of action, while others happen with a reduced scope. Some lines open up, some lines are shut.

Every chess player has to find some way to deal with a changing environment. They must find a correct response to a changing climate, move after move. They need to evolve stable strategies for dealing with instability.

Among most valuable chess skills, the power to detect changes in a position that signal a coming storm is a gift. And this should come with enough advance notice to prepare for adversity. Because danger looms everywhere! We are in the game where every move can be the last.

We are not certain how this chess barometer works, yet the evidence of its existence with the first echelon of chess players now and in the past is clear (think of Capablanca, for instance, who had an uncanny sense of danger).

The best players have tremendous situational awareness. They know where they are and where they are going. And they have shown an amazing ability to compensate for being pushed off track.

You would agree all the above makes much sense, chessly speaking.

But if I tell you I have borrowed the above from a field totally disconnected from chess, you will be surprised. I just accommodated an article from the New York Times. Can you ever guess that the original text was about … birds! Yes, birds.

"At the Train station", chess art by St. Germain

Chess storm (chess art by St. Germain, titled “At the Train station”)

Here are parts from the original that I have used to compile the above “chess note” on danger detection. Birds use their sensors to detect air pressure and temperature changes to make movements (migrations) and stay safe while chess players rely on vision to make good moves and avert danger:

“Humans may complain about the climate change. Birds do something about it. ‘Migration, in its most basic sense, is a response to a changing climate,’ Dr. Farnsworth said. ‘It’s finding some way to deal with a changing regime of temperature and food availability.’ For birds, cyclones, squalls and other meteorological wild cards have always been a part of the itinerant’s package, and they have evolved stable strategies for dealing with instability.”

“Among a bird’s weather management skills is the power to detect the air pressure changes that signal a coming storm, and with enough advance notice to prepare for the adversity. Scientists are not certain how this avian barometer works, yet the evidence of its existence is clear.”

“‘Birds have tremendous situational awareness,’ said Bryan D. Watts, director of the Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. ‘They know where they are and where they’re going, and they’ve shown an amazing ability to compensate for being pushed off track.'”

Your opponent may try hard pushing you off track and disorienting you during your game. But you should always know how the climate is changing, where you are and where you are going! And try to migrate to sunnier positions!

The original article from the New York Times, written by Natalie Angier, may you read here.

An amazing lesson from birds to chess players: it’s all about survival!

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!