A Gnat May Drink: One Hundred Annotated Games of Chess from 1900 to 1999


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It is a welcome return to the way chess game anthologies were lovingly crafted in the middle years of the century. There is no bewildering morass of variations, as in all too many 21st century works. It is as readable as it is well-written, with verbal descriptions which enhance the aesthetic quality of the games, penned by a true enthusiast with insight into the prevailing chess culture as well as the ideas behind the moves.

Jonathan Hinton's A Gnat May Drink struck a chord with chess lovers when released in the print run sold out almost instantly and it is not hard to see why. It features some of the most famous games of chess ever played as well as some little-known but delightful gems. Over and over, chess was said to have been invented to explain the unexplainable, to make visible the purely abstract, to see simple truths in complex worlds.

Pythagoras, the ancient mathematician heralded as the father of numbers, was supposed to have created the game to convey the abstract realities of mathematics. The Greek warrior Palamedes, commander of troops at the siege of Troy, purportedly invented chess as a demonstration of the art of battle positions. Moses, in his posture as Jewish sage, was said to have invented it as a part of an all—purpose educational package, along with astronomy, astrology and the alphabet. While chess is ostensibly about war, it has for 1, years been deployed as a metaphor to explore everything from romantic love to economics.

Historians routinely stumble across chess stories from nearly every culture and era— stories dealing with class consciousness, free will, political struggle, the frontiers of the mind, the mystery of the divine, the nature of competition, and, perhaps most fundamentally, the emergence of a world where brains often overcome brawn.

Chess is a teaching and learning instrument older than chalkboards, printed books, the compass, and the telescope. As a miniature reflection of society, it was also considered a moral guidepost. Yet another myth has chess invented to cure the cruelty of Evil Merodach, a vile Babylonian king from the sixth century B. Desperate to curb the brutality of his new leader, the wise man Xerxes created chess in order to instill virtues and transform him into a just and moral ruler: Here is how a king behaves toward his subjects, and here is how his grateful subjects defend their just king Separately, each chess myth conveys a thousand truths about a particular moment in time where a society longed to understand something difficult about its own past—the source of some idea or tool or tradition.

Taken together, they document our quest to understand—and explain—abstraction and complexity in the world around us. The paradox of illuminating complexity is that it is inherently difficult to do so without erasing all of the nuance. As our developing civilization faced more intricate facts and ideas in the early Middle Ages, this was a fundamental challenge: to find a way to represent dense truths without washing out their essence. The subsequent monarch needed a game which would embrace his belief in free will and intelligence.

He made mathematical calculations on chess, and wrote a book on it He often played chess with the wise men of his court, and it was he who represented the pieces by the figures of men and animals, and assigned them grades and ranks The game of chess became a school of government and defense; it was consulted in time of war, when military tactics were about to be employed, to study the more or less rapid movements of troops.

The king is so delighted by chess that he invites the inventor to name his own reward. Just give me one grain of wheat for the first square of the board, two grains for the second square, four grains for the third square, and so on, doubling the number of grains for each successive square, up to the sixty-fourth square. The king is shocked, and even insulted, by what seems like such a modest request. The advancement of big ideas required not just clever inventors, but also great teachers and vivid presentation vehicles. Chess was … a customizable platform for poets, philosophers, and other intellectuals to explore and present a wide array of complex ideas in a visual and compelling way.

When he arrived in Cordoba, this unwilling ambassador from Baghdad brought an early glimpse of the Islamic enlightenment. Famous for the sounds of his gut-stringed lute, Ziriab also dazzled Emir Abd-al-Rahman II and friends with refinements in cooking, fashion, hygiene, home decor, and recreation.

The very next Emir, Mohammed I, was personally devoted to the game.

They played a chess game in lieu of clashing in a real war. This was true not only of science and mathematics, some of which, like chess, originated in India, but also of classical literature.

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Through much of the twentieth century, historians have taught that Western civilization passed directly from Greece and Rome to Europe. It is now recognized that the Islamic Renaissance was a critical middle ground for much of the knowledge that would make the European Renaissance possible. Records show chess spreading to a Swiss monastery by Yalom, 16 ; to northern, Christian-controlled Spain by 43 ; to southern Germany by ; and to central Italy by Murray, To both Yalom and Shenk, and thus Murray, it was not surprising how the game came to acquire a few distinctive European modifications by then.

The board, which had been divided into sixty-four monochromatic squares, now saw the introduction of dark and light checkered squares — not out of any vital necessity, but simply to make movements easier for the eye to track.


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David H. Li, author of The Genealogy of Chess, suggests that this itself may have been a much older import from neighboring China. The element of hunt games is represented by the central figure, the element of variation of counters by the officers and the element of race games by the pawns. Josten, Games or related techniques, which certainly preceded the invention of chess and which contain these elements in an isolated form, can be found in the entire area along the Silk Road.

The answer is also existential to the human condition. But there was something different about chaturanga and chatrang. In a critical departure from previous board games from the region, these games contained no dice or other instruments of chance. Skill alone determined the outcome. Relevant information defining the game state in chess includes: 1 the configuration of chess pieces on the board; 2 the number of moves made since a pawn was moved, or a piece has been captured; 3 the en-passant capturing opportunities in the current game state; 4 the castling options left to both players; and 5 previous configurations with their en-passant capturing opportunities and castling options.

The information described here allows each player to determine the game state and its possible continuations, including en-passant capturing moves, castling moves, repetition of positions, and the status with respect to N -move rules. In practice, a player needs only three pieces of information: 1 the configuration of chess pieces; 2 the game score, i.

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The combination of these three pieces of information allows a player to deduce all necessary information during a game. This assumption 6 See the Theory of Games and Economic Behavior by John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern for a discussion of game theory and its quantitative foundations. When human chess players try to imitate the decision-making strategies of machines, they actually degrade their decision-making ability.

Even psychologists, philosophers, linguists, and students of artificial intelligence who do not study the brain itself nonetheless claim to explore the way humans think. It is certainly such universalistic sensitivity that allows cognitive scientists to unravel the universal foundations of human cognition.

A Gnat May Drink: One Hundred Annotated Games of Chess from 1900 to 1999(short extract)

Garfinkel, for such descriptions. My thesis posits that naturalistic decision-making is not conducted by the non-social thinker but by the social thinker, and that this is true about situations, like chess, that seem on the surface to be technical and radically individualized. It is a world where time is reckoned according to neither the sun or the moon nor our own inner sense of duration but rather, in accordance with standard, conventional time-reckoning systems such as clock time and the calendar.

It is a world where the conventional categories into which we force different "types" of books, films, and music are based on neither our own personal sensations nor any objective logical necessity. Such a world, of course, constitutes the distinctive domain of the sociology of the mind.

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The epistemological effort to refrain from attributing objectivity to that which is only inter-subjective has some important methodological implications. Since the social world is regarded as natural only by those who happen to inhabit it and therefore take it for granted, the more we can gain access to social worlds that are different from the one we have come to regard as a given the more we will be able to recognize the social nature of both. Thus, in marked contrast to the tendency among most psychologists, philosophers, linguists, and neuroscientists today to focus on our cognitive commonality as human beings, cognitive sociology tries to promote greater awareness of our cognitive diversity as social beings.

The more we become aware of our cognitive differences as members of different thought communities, the less likely we are to follow the common ethnocentric tendency to regard the particular way in which we ourselves happen to process the world in our minds as based on some absolute standard of "logic" or "reason" and, thus, as naturally or logically inevitable.

Moreover, a close reading of chess-play reveals the same aspect of collectivity Cf. Silman, , and therefore should provide greater clarity about what chess may offer to the greater understanding of human affairs as intrinsically and thoroughly social. He wrote an influential and now classical book entitled, Modern Ideas in Chess, which was first translated into English in and published in that edition in the same year.

The board and the pieces are suitable figurative presentations of abstract chess, somewhat as in analytical geometry figurative analytical functions are represented by curves. And just as in mathematics the relations of quantities are represented without the aid of concrete objects, and quantities in the abstract are the real subject matter of mathematical science, so the idea underlying chess is to bring the methods of practical dealing into agreement with methods that have no ultimate objects in themselves.

As defined, this represents an idea only or a set of ideas , not an activity and not a game, which necessarily involve action and participation. In that sense chess has become increasingly codified, regulated, and formalized over time, it provides the substance of the current institution of chess. Whether institutionalized or not, the idea of chess must always exist before or prior to any particular game of chess which involves this idea plus the participatory stance projected in the lusory attitude. This forces one to attend to the rules, tactics and strategies used in chess.

These define chess as an abstract concept but also open up the aspect of chess that involves an intricate relationship between the individual as a member of a thought community and the community as an exemplary form of making sense of experience together Cf. Goffman, Garfinkel, Schutz. Granted, this universe is the product of a thought experiment; but a thought experiment, once undertaken, can be overlaid upon the social world, where through an embodiment of thought, the universe of Chess and the universe of chess merge in a social phenomenological form that is sustained dramaturgically throughout the course of interaction.

It is sociological in that play is reflexive to the interactional aspect of playing; it is phenomenological in that the experience is reflexive to what is being accomplished in the course of playing and that the accomplishment expresses a universe in which what is done always refers to all that might be done hence, a universe.

Kasparov, how does life imitate chess? This book is not about chess or about how learning chess or playing chess can make you a better decision- maker. Most of my life was dedicated to the game, and so it became the lens through which I observed the world and the workings of my own mind. The book, as I endeavored to explain to the Radio City audience, is about the tools chess gave me to analyze and improve my thinking and my decisions in all situations. It teaches logic, patience, and planning, and it rewards those who learn to discipline their minds. This is the main reason my U.

There are few such straightforward parallels in the book; while the lessons I learned from my chess career are universal, the game itself is not. And yet, within that simplistic frame, chess retains its active quality; like a snow globe, it shrinks things down, but retains its dynamic essence. To begin the thought experiment, consider the following ideas: 1. Simultaneous Exhibition: A display in which a single chess player the exhibitor plays multiple chess games at a time with a number of other players where the exhibitor is usually a master and the individual opponents are of varying playing strengths, and the exhibitor typically plays White in all the games.

Hooper, Within the exhibition, the games progress at different rates in terms of board time i. Blindfold Chess: Play is conducted via a mental model of the game and the positions of the pieces while moves are communicated via a recognized chess notation. Hooper, 36 3. Blindfold Simultaneous Exhibition: A display in which the exhibitor plays via a mental model of the games while the opponents utilize boards and pieces in the standard fashion, but their moves are communicated verbally to the exhibitor.

Yet, as both clock time and board time progress and fatigue begins to settle in upon the part of the exhibitor, the exhibitor may begin to confuse positions in the games that have progressed similarly and thus blunder. Now to imagine a sequence of blindfold simultaneous exhibitions is to begin to capture the complexity of social life.

Now take this actor or exhibitor and consider their reality within the perspective of the King… The Perspective of the King Imagine a universe where, after there was darkness and light, there was a world solely constituted by 64 squares and 32 beings governed by a particular primordial metaphysics: the rules of chess. This currently defines the reality in which the course of a state of affairs progresses in a universe of two Kings.

The consciousness of the King through one course of affairs to the next reflects an awareness of history and the slow accumulation of knowledge over time. Rather, one can imagine a number of simultaneous realities where in at least one reality, one has the primary consciousness of the King. Because in chess, the pieces always start from the same positions. His skill and ability will make the difference. In the real world, however, it is extremely rare to find a balanced starting situation where the chances of winning for both parties are about equal.

These arrays of interaction may overlap and affect each other as the courses of affairs across the arrays are dialectically progressing both temporally and in complexity. This observation however is not altogether new to sociology. The consciousness is both vested situtated and transcendent constantly de-situated. The layman however could easily be or become a 10 This is just a glimpse of the schematic complexities the phenomenology that the consciousness of the King entails. This phenomenology will be further developed at a later time when making a conclusive case.

However, until Yasser Seirawan, an International Grandmaster, wrote Play Winning Chess, there was no simple classification scheme that could encompass the vast complexities of chess theory. The four main principles of chess attempt to place chess theory in a simplified language which enables players to better grasp what sometimes can seem to be paradoxical ideas. These four principles are force, space, time and pawn structure. Pawns together give structure or shape to the position by allowing or preventing attacks and defenses. The Norms of Force Force is the quality and quantity of material that operate according to norms of control and mobility.

The quality of material is established by the relations of quantity of force and the quality and quantity of space, time, and pawn structure respectively. Norms of mobility are static. Norms of control are dynamic. Environment includes all physical and social restrictions that apply to the interaction. Force equivocates to any object in the social world.


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  7. Space and Time act upon and are acted by such an object. Pawn Structure acts as constraints of the medium through which force is applied. The Force Dynamic In the play of chess, the position is analyzed and moves are understood in terms of the four principles and their elements in relation to each other. The relationship of these principles in relation to each other - the way force's norms of control alter space and pawn structure dynamically through time mediated by force's norms of mobility - produces a constant relationship analysis that I refer to as the force dynamic and that is fundamental to chess as a paradigm.

    Conducted from perspective of the King, this conceptual algorithm constantly analyses the phenomenological experience of the interaction of the four principles. In effect, the analysis follows the temporality of that experience: that is the sense in which it is a constant analysis and one which mediates and is mediated by its object.

    If I were to resign, just another game would begin; As much as I want to escape this board, I cannot resign, for it is against my nature The game must be played I must centralize my pawns; I must develop my Knights and Bishops; I must charge my Rooks; I must parade my Queen; I must protect myself; and I must destroy my opponents; Because, at the root of it all, what is life but a beautiful game of chess? And this evidence is the stuff of interaction. Conclusion At the very least, this thesis provides a prima facie case that chess can no longer be viewed as just a game.

    Chess is now, from the perspective of the King, a lens onto the social world where Chess defines reality. It defines reality such that the course of a state of affairs is dialectically progressing via the force dynamic. This force dynamic is the social logic of Chess as a technical resource for sociology. It is a visible means of explaining unseen people, places, things and events. Allis, Louis Victor. Maastricht, The Netherlands: University of Limburg. Basalla, B. Chess in the movies: TPI Wonderworks.

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    Garfinkel, H. Studies in ethnomethodology: Polity Press. Goffman, Erving. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Garden City, N. Encounters: Two Studies in the Sociology of Interaction. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill. Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. Englewood Cliffs, N. Strategic Interaction. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Goffman, E. Frame Analysis: An essay on the Organization of Experience.

    Boston: Northeastern University Press. Goffman, Erving, Charles C. Lemert, and Ann Branaman. The Goffman Reader. Cambridge, Mass. Chicago: Open Court. Green, T. The chessboard of life. London: Published by the author. Hale, Benjamin. Philosophy Looks at Chess. Spring Edition. London: Sheed and Ward. Hochberg, B. The square looking glass: the great game of chess in world literature: Times Books. Hooper, David, and Ken Whyld. The Oxford Companion to Chess. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Huxley, T. The game of life. Johnson, D. Josten, Gerhard. Karpov, A. Chess and the art of negotiation: ancient rules for modern combat: Praeger. Keats, V. Kuhn, Thomas S. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Attacking Technique, Colin Crouch, B. Batsford Ltd. Attacking the King, J. Walker, Cadogan Chess Aus der Welt der Schachstudie, Dr. B17 Caro-Kann; 1. Rc3 de4 4. Re4 Rd7. B22 Sicilian Defence Alapin Variation 1. B Sicilian Defence Sizilianische Verteidigung. Back to Basics: Fundamentals, by Branislav Francuski.

    Baden Baden International Chess Tournament. Amelung, Heft Beat the Chess Masters! Christian Kongsted. Benoni Fianchettovarianten AA64 1. Sc3 exd5 5. Sf3 g6 7. Bent Larsens Sjakkskole 1: Finn kombinasjonen! Bibliophilos 4 , Suomen shakkikirjallisuutta. Bilten Bulletin ; The 29th Chess Olympiad. Bishop v Knight: the verdict; Which is the stronger minor piece?

    Steve Mayer. Black is OK! Blackburne-Hartlaub Gambit 1 d4 e5 2 dxe5 d6!? Blunders and how to avoid them; Eliminate mistakes from your play. Bobbi Fischer utchit igrat schahmaty, Zdarowja, Kiew Boken om schack. A lot of information about Swedish chess players, Eric Carlen. Book of The Folkestone Botwinnik Victor; Keur van zijn beste partijen British Chess Magazine Vol 52 Original binding with index.

    British Correspondence Chess Association Budapest-Gambiten, A. Hildebrand - P. Bulletin du Match International: Hollande - Tunisie Bulletin III. Internationales Schach-Festival Bulletin Zweites Internationales Schachfestival Chess Changing Oneself; Others Learn. Cariera mea sahista; O jumatate de secol de activitate A half of century of chess activity.

    A Gnat May Drink: One Hundred Annotated Games of Chess from 1900 to 1999 A Gnat May Drink: One Hundred Annotated Games of Chess from 1900 to 1999
    A Gnat May Drink: One Hundred Annotated Games of Chess from 1900 to 1999 A Gnat May Drink: One Hundred Annotated Games of Chess from 1900 to 1999
    A Gnat May Drink: One Hundred Annotated Games of Chess from 1900 to 1999 A Gnat May Drink: One Hundred Annotated Games of Chess from 1900 to 1999
    A Gnat May Drink: One Hundred Annotated Games of Chess from 1900 to 1999 A Gnat May Drink: One Hundred Annotated Games of Chess from 1900 to 1999
    A Gnat May Drink: One Hundred Annotated Games of Chess from 1900 to 1999 A Gnat May Drink: One Hundred Annotated Games of Chess from 1900 to 1999
    A Gnat May Drink: One Hundred Annotated Games of Chess from 1900 to 1999 A Gnat May Drink: One Hundred Annotated Games of Chess from 1900 to 1999
    A Gnat May Drink: One Hundred Annotated Games of Chess from 1900 to 1999 A Gnat May Drink: One Hundred Annotated Games of Chess from 1900 to 1999

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