Today I am waiting for a battle. The battle I’m waiting for was promised 10 months ago, I think my opponent may be a bit scared of losing. The battle I am waiting for is a game of chess. My opponent is a manager, the lord of the manor, me I am just a humble lowly homeless service user, a peasant. The stakes are high no peasant would ever be able to take on the manorial lord with a even chance of winning.
Chess is the great leveler, in mythology it has brought Gods and man together to battle on equal footing. Death is said to choose chess as the game which decides the fate of a human soul. The chess board is a battlefield, for a battle of minds, each opponent sizing each other up across 64 squares. The boundaries are clear the rules understood by all before battle commences. Pure mental skill verses pure mental skill. Money, power, status have no meaning here. If only real life was as clearly and fairly defined.
You can tell a lot about a person by how they play chess. Are they Risk takers, blindly charging forward putting pieces in danger with questionable support? Are they authoritarians making silly but arduous moves whilst looking you calmly in the eye, as if daring you to take the piece they have moved into danger without anything to back it up? Those of you who know me will know that I eat authoritarians for breakfast, I’ve no time for folk who like to throw their weight around. I also have a zero tolerance policy for bullying authoritarians, I’m not apologising for this either.
Is the opponent a cautious individual, carefully arranging their pieces into a strong defensive pattern? This if done too much traps pieces in a potentially dangerous place, because there is no way for pieces to escape if the defences are breached. Or is instant gratification more to their personalities taste? Thus falling into the trap of going for the piece placed as sacrificial bait so you can completer your kill of mate.
Or is your opponent an authoritative player, carefully balancing the need for defence with the requirement to attack? They don’t take undue risks but by the same measure their game is not devoid of risk taking moves. Are they thinking a few moves ahead, weighing up and planning for all the possible moves of the opponent.
How does your opponent handle set backs? When you unexpectedly, (to them), take a major piece like a rook or queen? Do they look obviously flustered going on to make a cvouple of angry, rash attacking moves, do they squirm in their seat losing concentration or do they sit calmly, accepting their mistakes, deepen their concentration and go on to dismantle your plans and win the game.
How do they react when its obvious they’re going to be defeated? Do they resign or do they make you use all your skills and brainpower, to finish them off and win the game, showing a determination not to give up but go on till the end fighting to the last.
Does the personality of your opponent match the personality of the person as you know them away from the battle arena?
The manager was a cautious, resourceful player of good authority. He won eventually but we both made mistakes. I was too cautious in the middle game and on reflection should of sacrificed my bishop to take his rook. We shook hands afterwards, equals in the battle arena, he complimented me saying “your not a risk taker”. Then we left the battle arena, retreating to behind the walls which society has built for us all.
The more astute of you may of noticed that I told you that I’ve waited 10 months for this game. It was worth the wait.