Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The end... the end... the end... the

Last night, S. and I played several dozen ends of chess games. These came from a book called "Practical Chess Endings", a faded, pre-Bobby Fisher-era volume written by a Russian master sometime around the Cuban missile crisis. According to the blurb on the back, the author's chess writing is "full of humor and amusement". Judging by my lack of laughs in reading his book, I imagine I would not have found the Soviet Union a very funny place.

We started with the minimalist scenarios, each involving two kings and one pawn. Despite the apparent simplicity, however, the paths to finality were hazy. We had to play each one several times, moving the pieces, rewinding, and restarting, before the right way to end things became clear. It felt like living the last minutes of life over and over and over.


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