Sunday, April 15, 2012


Alla fin del gioco, tanto va nel sacco il re quanto la pedina.
When the game is over, both the King and the Pawn go back in the same box (Italian proverb)

My oldest grandson, Rudy, 10 years old this week is a very good chess player; he has won more contests for children of his age. I am the only family member whom he cannot defeat because chess has played an important role in my life, actually there were three episodes in my life when I played chess with passion, trying to become the champion of: first the class at the Lyceum, second the little town Savinesti where I have worked and third
the Institute of Chemistry in Cluj. Any time I have succeeded I have started to spend my time with things more useful than this game. So I have a great experience that compensates my lack of talent- I do not possess at all those forms of memory typical for the great players and have to reinvent good moves and solutions and strategies for each game I am playing. However I own an efficient and innovative mode of thinking- in chess.
Rudy wanted to win and he tried to stress me, confuse me, to defocus my attention; he moved, whistled, sang however I have told him that what he does is bad only for him:
“Rudy, you can shout, you can fly, you can do what do you want, your Grandpa is perfectly immune to all these things and does not care, you can stress only yourself!”
I have learned to play chess in the CHESS CLUB of TIMISOARA (my native city) and that was a extremely hard school of reality, a combination of a library and a madhouse and rehearsal room, smoking was permitted and dense smoke was ubiquitous and there were no other rules than those basic of chess. A great variety of human beings was there, many of them quite weird. But you could play up to 10 or even more games an afternoon usually with good players. I am trying now to tell you what have I learned (except or beyond chess) in the, for now, mythical club. Because it was one of the best places of alternative education I have ever been. It is very difficult to systematize what I have learned there, but I hope taxonomy- mon amour will forgive me (see please )
Life, like chess- is a Fight. Learn how to lose!
The first rule is to learn to lose with dignity, even with a kind of elegance. Very important- you can be the most privileged human on the Earth, however there will be many times more defeats in your life than wins or victories. You will lose fights, battles, disputes, arguments, contests, exams, opportunities, lawsuits, friends, forces etc.  so many things in so many places –arenas, board, office, conference rooms, kindergarten, school, home, bed, swimming pool whatever – and you have to be well prepared for loss, defeats, crises, disasters. 
You will run fast (Citius) and be in front 99.99% of the time, then on the last 10 meters some nobody will appear from nowhere – or even more guys whom you used to ignore as competitors and good-bye medals, you will be beaten in some minute fractions of a second. Imagine please similar mini-tragedies for Altius and Fortius- sport is a metaphor of life.
So rarely are discovered such revolutionary things as the Fosbury Flop- counterintuitive, not natural and a great progress a LENR in sport, I daretosay.
Chess is a good, cheap school for becoming skilled in losing well.
This episode of my life has happened when the local Big Brother was very bloodthirsty so a quotation from the, perhaps greatest specialist in the science of bigbrotherology will fit here:

An autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful. A man who gives a good account of himself is probably lying, since any life when viewed from the inside is simply a series of defeats.  (George Orwell)
( I will have to remember this when continuing my series of writings about “My Cold Fusion History.”)
You will learn soon that defeats are very instructive, you can learn much more from them than from victories. But that is all,
defeats have to be used to learn how to win but actually they have to be avoided by all means. You will see so many times that others are better, smarter, faster, more talented, luckier and
privileged that you. If you want avoid tons of bitterness in your life, you will forget and ignore the poisonous idea of meritocracies,
Victories have absolutely no permanence, the old saying coming from sport- in essence: Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.” (Vince Lombardi) is actually a description of some form of inertia, but no victory is some guarantee of the next victory. All victories have to be built from the scratch.
Both in chess and in life you have to learn that confrontations are not taking place between pieces or individuals but between forces.
There is a simple (in principle) and very complex (in execution) recipe to win: surprise, but/and do not err!
Nobody and nothing is inerrant.
Analyzed in toto and in a larger context, both in chess and life (that is much more complex, dynamic, full of contradictions, paradoxes like chess- even as Go ( (game)
it is impossible to avoid errors. In chess it is a saying that the winner is the player who errs less or errs earlier. Just to mention that I was not motivated or smart enough to learn the strategic game of Go- at a decent level.
Everybody can err, nobody is infallible. I have seen formidable gaffes made by grandmasters. The computer programs that have beaten human world champions are also able to make great errors- but not at the same level of inventive stupidity as humans.
This experience is only one of the ways that leads to the basic
idea that claims of perfection or inerrancy attributed to beings,
creations and ideas are very dangerous. The idea per se is dangerous for those who possess it.
You have to learn to be the master of the circumstances, not the slave of them.
You have to learn to play and live functionally well, even in very
stressing or disturbing or hostile circumstances. This is what I have explained to my grandson Rudy. You have to think orderly
in a chaotic environment, you must develop good filters for noises of any kind. Grow above the obstacles on your way.
But this only a part of greater idea- fragments of it appear in Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” –
 we used to tell it as a kind of prayer in the worst years of communism as consolation for our unending troubles. I have learned to think deeply while queuing for long hours for elementary food products, to read with pleasure papers of interest in a cold room at candle or petroleum light, to ignore completely some idiotic speeches of the Party leader(s).
Being stronger than Fate is the essence of real humanism, even if it is impossible on a longer term. Nature has infinite patience and endless time, learn please that Nature has no problems, only solutions.
But if you are realist, you will realize that when you have a truly bad day, then forget chess, go home and a drink a couple or a troika of beers or tzuikas, decide with whom you will vote and take a nap.
Be strong above circumstances. Do not be dependent or addicted.
Put limits both to your admiration and enmity.
Communities have their own Rules and hierarchies
The Chess Club was a closed community in which everybody was judged solely on his force and skill in playing chess. Your age, profession, culture, status in real life were irrelevant
The greatest authority was Mr. Muresan a former railway worker very ill (silicosis pre-final stage) playing aggressively and an uneducated formidable chess genius. Nobody could defeat Mr. Muresan and even my model- Herr Doktor Schubert, always impeccably dressed with fine golden frame eyeglasses, speaking a lot of languages, bald – a real gentleman, only rarely could make a draw with Muresan. However, Istvan my deaf mute good friend
was one of the best passive players I have ever met, building impenetrable defense positions with his pieces.
A younger colleague of mine, later one of the first 10 players of the country, more lately successfully playing blindfold chess with 10 players and beating them all, even more lately abandoning everything for the realization of his Great Invention- kind of pump
with a mercury piston and eventually dying in misery due to alcoholism- this guy was then only a timid apprentice.
Everybody knew that X is an officer of the Securitate, outside the Club he was a carrier and practitioner of terror, but inside just one of the unpredictable players.
After heroic efforts, I succeeded to belong to the “middle class” of the players, I were not ignored.
Grosso modo, the Chess Club has also shown that the greatest disorder is compatible with very strict rules; anarchy can be perfectly mixed with dictatorship. A place like the Internet today.
Chess is so good for learning problem solving!
The game of chess is very instructive and helps you to learn tactics and strategy. The problem is how to be more efficient, smarter and resistant than you opponent. How to detect his weak points? What to sacrifice, which piece for obtaining a decisive advantage for check-mating his King. The most important is however how to survive in seemingly lost situations/positions by a creative and completely unexpected set of moves.
Be patient, be focused, be inventive, and be resilient!
You must be very careful to say something is impossible.
Diversity is great, you must always try something new both in chess and in life. Enjoy the beauty of your solutions.
The kibitz should shut up.
When I have started to play chess at the Club, the active non-playing “observers” and “critics” were free to tell the actual players what the wanted, how they wanted, when they wanted (i.e. before doing a move or after it)
“Think, little son. you have a wonderful move!”
“You are a complete idiot, haven’t you seen that if you sacrifice the Rook on d4, Georgie is dead, out, kaput, uomo finito?”
“Take of your dirty hand of that piece, it is on its ideal place and if you want to win it has to stay there!”
“You again have forgotten that Sicilian Opening is not for retards like you!”
“Even an absolute beginner could easily win in the position you were 10 moves ago, but you have lost” And so on…
The international name of these annoying individuals is “kibitzer” See please-
They became the main factor of stress and disturbance in the Club
and considering that actually as a group they were no skilled players, on the contrary, an action was started to get rid of them.
First a citation of the proto-porno writer Pitigrilli was exposed;
“Do not give me advices, I can err myself”
(Non datemi consigli, so sbagliare da me.)
The kibitzer have ignored this and strict rules were introduced in three languages Romanian (“Chibitule, taci din gura!”), Hungarian (“Kibic, kuss!) and German (“Kiebitz, halt dein Maul!)
all these meaning that they should shut up!
The campaign, combined with beating and excluding of some very stubborn kibitzes from the Club was a success- let’s say some 90% success.
However kibitzing is kind of undying killer meme. The kibitzes claim that it is a principle of democracy and a human right that everybody can have an opinion about anything he/she wishes
irrespective that of being a professional or an amateur. The Internet, especially the millions of its forums is a Paradise for the kibitzes, they prosper, flourish and... write. Is this good or is it one of the forms of degenerate democracy? It is and it will last.
Eventually, the conclusion:
Our existence is like a great Chess Club, but sometimes and in some places, it is different.


  1. I've never been a chess-player, but I really enjoyed this. I found it searching for the motto at the top of the post, but was engaged enough to read it all. It's interesting seeing err and loss through this perspective - great read!

  2. thanks, and welcome to my Blog!

    I think it would have been good to cite
    the poem Invictus by Bantley in this essay.


  3. Thank you, very nice! Please feel free to use the writings labelled BASIC and PROBLEM SOLVING on my blog for your practical purposes or to write me to for consulting
    Best wishes,

  4. An autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful. A man who gives a good account of himself is probably lying, since any life when viewed from the inside is simply a series of defeats. (George Orwell)

    Very telling..

    1. And who has told that a really good memory does not work only backwards.? A biography is composed from Pareto-truths.
      Avoid dualistic thinking, i.e. seeing the World only in black and grey; it is sometimes vividly colored too. Compared with other collections of known size, I have more than 250,000 quotations in 6 languages.