Halacha: The Greatest Chess Game on Earth

July 18, 2012

For the Love of Israel and the Jewish Peopleby Nathan Lopes Cardozo

There is probably no game as difficult and captivating as chess. Millions of people break their heads over chess strategies and spend years learning its ins and outs. It holds them captive as nothing else does. They dream about it and discuss the move of a single pawn as if their lives depended on it. They will follow the most famous chess tournaments and discuss every move of a world champion, for days and even years. They replay famous, mind-boggling games of the past, even those that took place as long ago as 70 years.

These chess aficionados try to improve on those games of the distant past, often getting into heated arguments about a brilliant or foolish move that took place 50 years earlier. Thousands of books, tens of thousands of essays have been published on how to get better at the game.

The rules are set up in the World Chess Federation’s FIDE Handbook. Strategies are developed and tactics suggested; countless combinations have been tried, to the point that some typical patterns have their own names, such as the Boden’s Mate and the Lasker-Bauer combination.

Mikhail Botvinnik revolutionized the opening theory, which was considered nothing less than a Copernican breakthrough.

Famous chess studies such as the one published by Richard Reti (1921) are revelations of tremendous depth. (He depicted a situation in which it seems impossible for the white king to catch the advanced black pawn while the white pawn can be easily stopped by the black king).

THE RULES are ruthless. There are no compromises, no flexibility.

Zero rachmanut (mercy). It is all about midat hadin (harsh rendering). The rules are rigid, as is nothing else. And they can make players mad to the point of possibly considering suicide. Read the rest of this entry »