Caïssa’s Wisdom: #6 – Beauty in Chess

Rules and Etiquette for Chess Amateurs

Setting aside sentimentality and romanticism the great goddess today shines the radiance of her wisdom on the eternal conflict and unending relationship between beauty and truth, brilliancy and error.

Chess would be a very different game if results were decided by a panel of judges awarding marks for “technical merit” and “artistic impression”!

#6: No beauty without truth

Without error there can be no brilliancy
– Emanuel Lasker

There are no prizes for artistic merit in chess. Not last time I looked any way. A pretty combination that doesn’t work isn’t pretty. It’s just wrong and you shouldn’t have played it. Don’t try to convince yourself otherwise.

Black to play from Jonasson vs. Angantysson, Reyjavik 1984

For example look at the position on the left which Christian Hesse brings to our attention in his luminary work “The Joys of Chess”. Black now perceived that he could give up his queen by playing 26…e2 and after the moves 27.fxe7 Bd4+ were played White resigned in dismay.

So was Black’s concept beautiful? To be sure some would say so. However, had White not been an imbecile he would have noticed that after 28.Ne3! it would have been he who was winning. In the end Black won with an incorrect idea that his opponent didn’t have the talent to exploit. That’s not beautiful it’s a mistaken idea going unpunished and that is what really wins chess games.


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