Monday, August 22, 2005

Three With a Chess Theme

(P1) Philosophical

This time, I thought I'd pay a bit of homage to the grand game of chess, not just as a "game," but for the manner in which it informs almost everything. Joyce frequently asks if I'm playing a "game" of chess. To those of us who play, it's a lot more than a game. I took up chess as sort of a counter-phobic pursuit. I tend to make my decisions in life through less than fully analytical means. Additionally, I'm not the most disciplined person in the world. So, with the help of my neighbor and friend Dave (to whom this piece is dedicated), I learned to play chess (albeit rather badly). My idea was to stare my deficits squarely in the face and perhaps by so doing, acquire a bit more discipline and become somewhat more analytical. I believe I have succeeded (especially if the hedge of the word "somewhat" is fully considered).

Beyond disicipline and analysis, my greatest spur to becoming involved was this passage from the great Grandmaster Sigbert Tarrasch who wrote simply and profoundly that, "CHESS, LIKE LOVE, LIKE MUSIC, HAS THE POWER TO MAKE MEN HAPPY." Any pursuit carrying such a promise of happiness is worth investigating. I have never been disappointed - frustrated, yes - but don't love and frustration go hand-in-hand? - The results have been well-worth the effort.

Please leave your comments to any of the items on this post by pressing the word Comments. You can also read other readers' comments by paging down and clicking on the word comments wherever you find it. Just log in as either "blogger" or "other." If "other," please also type your name into your text. Of course, you can also email me at

(P2) Political

Perhaps the two greatest young chess players who ever lived are still alive: 1. Bobby Fischer - a total nutcase, and 2. Garry Kasparov - a force for world change.

Permit me not to give any "press" to anti-semite Fischer. But Kasparov should be heard and is being heard by his sworn enemy Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Why should the Russians and the world listen to a great chess player? In his autobiography, Garry Kasparov - Unlimited Challenge, Kasparov offers the wise words of his own esteemed teacher, Grandmaster Mikhail Botvinnik, "In order to solve inexact problems it is essential to limit the scope of the problem so as not to get entangled in it, and only then is there the chance of finding a more exact solution. Hence, it is a mistake to think that chess does not reflect objective reality. It reflects man's thinking."

Here is an example of Kasparov's chess-influenced political analysis:

"Western leaders who still hope that relations with Putin will lead to reforms are similar to chess players who wish to attack only the enemy’s king. One must learn to play against pawns, play on all sides of the chessboard. If you are able to convince the opponent’s pawns and pieces to join you, the enemy’s king will not succeed in standing alone for a long time.”

So, good luck, Garry Kasparov. You're up against a ruthless pro who also knows how to play. In fact he plays so well that George Bush, upon only one visit, declared that he had looked into Vladimir's soul and liked what he saw. But I rather doubt that Bush is a very good chess player.

(P3) Poetical


Here when the game is done,

the last piece moved,

the King with no place to go,

Not dead, not checked,

just frozen forever

in a limbo of his own

creation. No exit.

No entrance. No movement.

No target. No victim.

No attacker. No time.

All the others gaping at him

here in his cave safe

forever in this vacuum-

-packed cocoon unclear,

No loss. No victory.

A draw. A stasis.

No nourishment. No need.


Anonymous said...

love the cartoon. now i know how you got started! great theme this week.
love j

Anonymous said...

Hey Bloghead, so Dave taught you how to play chess and you're no good - what does that say about Dave and your dedication of the column to him - the end of another friendship!#?

Ok, so I read enough of your blogings to realize that here is a person truly in NEED, ugh give it a rest - like forever!

Edward Coletti said...

Dear Anonymous,

Most of the most intemperate and negative responses come from those who, like yourself, do not indentify themselves. Additionally, most respondents have at least something good to say amidst the vitriol.


Rohan said...

Interesting read. esp the poetry stuff.
But 'general blogs' don't hold the readers for a long time, the readers (read: I) look for more clarity, direction, purpose in the piece.
But of course, It's your blog, it should be the way YOU want it to be.
keep writing :)

Edward Coletti said...

Dear Rohan, Always good to hear from India where so much technical growth is happening these days. I appreciate your remarks and believe I understand. I went to your blog which is titled "Just What a Blog Should Be!!" I note that you are 25. I'm 61. My purpose is to explore philosophical ideas, poetical ones, and politics. Yours, as is the case with many younger folks, is to explore yourself and your feelings. I feel each approach is valid. Therefore can you help me with clarification of 2 of your points. 1. Why do you believe that readers would be more interested in a person's frequent discussion of how he/she is personally feeling? and 2. How might I increase my clarity of purpose and direction? Thank you for your interest, especially in my poetry. Check out my book "thawts: Selected Poems of Edward Coletti" on


Rohan said...

Hi Ed. Yeah the difference in our age has brought in a difference in our thoughts as well. And that's great I feel. People should be different (but compatible) to bring out the best in eash other.

What I meant with my remarks was:

If you had asked me to write a summary of your blog after I had read it, honestly speaking, I'd struggle.
It's like, I read your blog, liked the style of writing, liked your language, liked the way how you handled a topic in three distinct ways (innovative for sure).

But unfortunately, I missed the subject of your write. Meaning I cannot reiterate as to what I've read !!! At the end of the read, I found myself thinking as to 'what' I've read, and found a hollow.

Of course, it's totally possible that I was not a good enough reader to understand the stuff. (I back off then).

As for my blog, I didn't really take it seriously. I started blogging merely to test a new internet fundae called "blog".

But since you tried to read it, I feel encouraged. Going forward, will try to sync my blogs with what remarks I've put in here.

And 25 and 61 is hardly a difference. We can be blog friends and try to make a +ve difference to each other. I'm a techie (working with Microsoft Corp as a developer), hence you have a tough task of pulling me up to your literary talent level !!! :)

Bookmarking your blog for future reads. Most enjoyable talking to you :)

Edward Coletti said...

Thanks again, Rohan. Were your comments directed just to the 3 items in the chess posting, or to every single posting?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

It has come to my attention that I stepped over the line with my comment regardiong Ed's blogging NEEDS for which I apologize. It was not intentional! You might understand where it came from if you realize that the TV series Becker, about a practicing physician in the Bronx, could very well have been based on me, a former New Yorker.

4:43 PM

Praveen Bhat said...

Ed, the *stalemate* is lovely.

Its the saddest state that chess can go to. Those are life's moments when you think you could go back on your steps, live some bits again, a little different this time. But alas, that'll never happen. One can't move on. It seems to be an eternal handicap until a new game starts! Or better still, you step out of your own creation (the way you seem to be hinting too in your poem). May I at this point link up to the parallels I drew once between Chess & karma.

btw: I hope you liked "I am That" :)

Edward Coletti said...

Great, Praveen

Your appreciation of my poem "Stalemate" is likewise appreciated. I loved the analogy of "Chess & Karma." Some of the religious terminology goes over my head, but I certainly get the general idea. Good job.