08 October 2005

The Joy of Chess

Friday, October 7, 2005

I had a good chess game today at work against my colleague Cesar. Over a period of several months, we played a number of games and as of this afternoon we were tied. The game was supposed to be a tie-breaker and by the fashion he beat me in the last two games, I was sure he would win. Indeed he started out very strong, his Queen breaking my pawn structure and had my King run around. However, Cesar made a mistake and had to sacrifice a Rook for a Pawn that was just a square away from being Promoted. He made good use of his Knight and three Pawns and it was I who had to force a stalemate, even though I had a Rook and Bishop on a black square, plus a Pawn.

In my opinion, Cesar is indeed the best player I know in the office. He moves quickly and always seems to have everything planned, versus my haphazard placement of pieces. It amazed me that I managed to beat him before. The first few games I can understand that he wasn't aware of my ability and laid out traps that, when I didn't fall into, turned against him. I simply cannot think at his speed and not make total blunder. Even when I took a long time to think, he still defeated me.

Chess grandmasters can memorize many moves and supposedly to them the game isn't as challenging anymore. Some had to come up variations of chess just to add more complexity to the game. To amateurs like us it's still lots of fun. I tried playing against the computer but it's just not the same. Whereas when I play against human players, there's a chance they will make mistakes, including dumb ones. With a computer, in my case, to be exact, a PDA, it never works.

I actually started playing Chinese Chess before International Chess. I still have a little trouble adjusting to the transition. With Chinese Chess, the pieces are more restricted. The General's Guards are limited within the Palace, where the General is also confined in. The Elephants, great as they sound, cannot cross the river. Pawns don't get promoted once they reach the other end zone - kinda like Communism vs. Capitalism, you are stuck with whatever occupation the Party told you to be in. Knights and Elephants can be blocked off. So on and so on. Subconsciously, I usually try to trade Queens early in the game so the setting is more similar to Chinese Chess, as there is no Queens in Chinese Chess.

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