Saturday, September 6, 2008

Chess as the Pivotal Issue in American Politcs

A recent article in the Herald by Jonathan Rowson (reprinted w/permission):

I recently had a day dream about a hustings for the American Presidential election, where the decisive issue was not the economy, foreign policy, or even personality, but which candidate had the best chess credentials:

Senator Obama, Do you play chess?
Obama: Yes we can.
Not now, I mean in general.
Obama: Now is the time, it's our time.
But what I really want to know...
Obama: Chess shows that despite White's slight advantage, with hard work Black has fair chances too. And in Hawaii, Indonesia and Kenya, I saw that when good wholesome American folks play chess, they no longer cling bitterly to guns and religion. We don't have to be pawns in a Washington game, because we can all be promoted. All our pieces can move forward in unison, not as blue pieces or red pieces, but as one united chess board. Our moves will light up the sky, from the Gulf Stream to the Rocky Mountains, and up there, we will think and play together under the same moonbeam of hope.
Senator McCain: Is it my turn? Ok. Is 'W' here? Get him out of the building- he doesn't even know how the knight moves. Anyway, the most patriotic thing you can do is to play chess for your country. I tried by entering a Rapidplay event in Hanoi in the sixties, but they didn't differentiate between board combatants and field combatants so they took me out of play. During those five years as a Prisoner of War, I became a true American, because my only lifelines were a chess set, a stars and stripes bed sheet, and a photograph of fellow Maverick Bobby Fischer, who took the fight to the Russians, just like I will if I'm elected, and well.

Joe Biden (smiling): At the senate committee on foreign relations we have been discussing the forthcoming Anand-Kramnik World Championship match, which is another fault line in the battle to curb the expansion of Russian power. I also previously said that every sentence uttered by Rudolph Guiliani amounts to "a noun, a verb, and 9/11". Well I promise that as VP I will bombard you with abundant nouns and plentiful verbs in every single one of my sentences, and all of those sentences will be about chess. And may God protect our troops!

Governor Palin (sardonically): Everything I know about guns and oil, I learned on the chessboard. On hunting exhibitions, whoever won at chess would decide which animal we would kill that day. I always wanted to kill the wolves and the polar bears, but the rest of my beloved family just wanted plain old moose steak. I usually won, because while I am a regular hockey mom, I am lipstick-wearing pit bull on the chessboard. As VP I would personally drill for oil to fund the next generation of Grandmasters, including my wonderfully talented chess-loving unborn grandchild.


Tom Panelas said...

Wonderful. Thanks for finding this. As I have sat here for months clinging bitterly to knights and bishops (swords and religion) I have thought all along that the unspoken issue in this election is chess.

Obama is the chess candidate (he and Michelle both play), but he must disseminate his chess message carefully, sotto voce. For a candidate with two Ivy League degrees who has already been called an elitist, if word were to spread that he partakes of somehting as intellectual as chess, it could be the kiss of death in the hockey-mom-pitbull belt, wherever that is.

I had hoped that an Obama presidency would bring the establishment of a cabinet-level Department of Chess, and that the president would name Vice President Vicary to head it. Given the Biden nomination, it clearly will not happen quite that way, but maybe it's just as well. After all, the move is rife with political and constitutional landmines.

Turf fights for one thing. Think of the Fried Liver Attack. Which cabinet department would be in charge of that -- Chess or Agriculture? How long do you think it would take before the State Dept. insisted on controlling the French Defense and the Italian Game? And heaven help us when the Pentagon wants to take charge of the Yugoslav Attack.

Issues of federalism arise as well. Under whose jurisdiction would the Wilkes Barre Attack fall, the US government or the state of Pennsylvania? It would have to be settled by the Supreme Court. What a mess.

Anonymous said...

For a Scot, Jonathon Rowson certainly has gotten the feel of American Politics! Very funny!

Anonymous said...

Could you make the link more specific? Went to the site and couldn't find the article. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

George W responds: Hey wait a minute there McCain, I do too know how the knight moves. It moves in an L shape. See I know that. It's like I told Condi--hey Condi, go to the middle east and move around alot like a knight, in funny movements noone understands. It'll confuse everybody. My daddy told me life is like chess: you gotta stick with your plan no matter how bad it is going (or was it even a bad plan is better than no plan). Sure, we have sacrificed lots of "material" and our position may seems untenable (I love using words like that...untenable), but here comes my pawn surge! I never liked pawns 'cause they are all potential 'queens'--git it!!! hehehe..."