Wednesday, April 09, 2008

How to beat a Chess Master


Zugzwanged is a chess term which describes how black, owing to white's extra move in starting the game, is forced into playing a losing move. This match follows a similar ploy.

A stranger challenges two Grand Chess Masters to a tournament. He proposes playing both at the same time and bets he will either beat one of them or at least force a draw. He offers a large sum of money to tempt them and they agree. Each champion is then seated at opposite sides of the room behind a screen so neither can see each other's board.

The first Grand Master opens the game by moving white Queen's pawn forward two squares. The challenger studies this for a moment and then crosses the room to the second Grand Master and opens against him with the same move. The second Master responds by shifting his black Queen's pawn forward two squares. The challenger returns to the first Master and repeats the very same move. The first Master responds by sliding another pawn forward and the challenger returning to the second Master repeats the move. So it continues.

The two Masters, increasingly baffled by the expertise of the challenger, reach an impasse and are forced to concede a draw. The challenger collects the cash. Not bad for someone who didn't know how to play chess.

from The Art of Looking Sideways

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