Ruy Lopez – my variation.

Chess strategy insists that you develop your pieces, and make them take control of the four central squares of the board – either by occupying them, or by exerting control over them. This has to be done quickly, and with least loss of time/tempo.

The question is why? Why should you develop pieces without there being any necessity for them? There is no real check-mating strategy in mind, there is no threat from the other side, there is really no objective. I don’t know what’s my goal, my purpose, my real goal. Why develop pieces when you don’t need them? Why get a masters degree? Why not just move the knight back and forth waiting for the opponent to start his attack? Why not just keep a good job, and do a back and forth from home square to office square? Why open up lines to develop more pieces, even rooks, and not be satisfied with developing just the queen? Why not just make money, and assume that the rest will follow? Why is it considered bad strategy to start a queen-attack in the beginning? Why does investing in money now sound so wrong to me?

I dislike analogies. I especially dislike this one, because it can be stretched so much more. Maybe that’s because it was modeled on what I am analogizing[1] it with. A case of ‘by definition,’ I suppose. But it’s inadequacy is evident because it just cannot capture the most important aspect of my life now. But well…maybe if Chess allowed a player to make two moves together…

Coming back to opening moves, the answer to all the why’s is quite simple: I’ll need resources when I do have a plan later, a goal, a purpose. And some resources are better than none, all are better than some. Developing all pieces is hard, esp. in an adversarial setup. But is Time really adversarial? Developing some pieces is easy, but which ones? A masters degree is harder than learning a new language, or saving money, or doing nothing? But is developing the rook worth it? Can’t we manage to win with just the knight and bishop combinations? It’s been done before. But, I am not that good a player: someone who can win without developed pieces; without good, well-developed pieces. I castled and decided to quit my job[2], thereby got my masters degree, and got my rook into play. I will now try to open up files for further attack, and maybe even double my rooks in sometime by getting a Ph.D.

[2] – The irony of how quittng my job, which is inherently an unsafe thing to do, is being analogized with castling, I think deserves a footnote.
[1] – I like this particular verb form.

14 thoughts on “Ruy Lopez – my variation.

  1. Good post duude….Where the hell is my chessboard ? Someone has run away with it.I liked the analogy..Queen, Rooks et al…too much…Looks like I am a knight from your post….But a knight in black armour is not a bad idea ๐Ÿ˜‰


  2. Ruy Lopez – “ultra modern opening par excellence”; that quote from a chess book is still etched in my mind.

    make two moves together..
    Or multiplayer game, or non-zero sum game..

    b/w chess alle draw maaDideene, scrabble alli hodaskonDidru ๐Ÿ˜€

  3. Well, we can avoid the follies of the past and be alert for the patterns of the future, but the irony is that we can neither “transcend or escape the game”. -P

  4. please don’t post such blogs…
    it makes a lot of disturbance in many tranquil minds … if there are any ๐Ÿ˜‰

    — nishant…

    man!!! what is this website, i saw this post on yahoo 360 and am posting comment on blogger TM

    the world is really converging…
    may be that’s a hint to solve your problem. CONVERGE………..

  5. So say you do get control over those 4 squares, you already have your masters say you do go and get a PHD, is that the end, just like in chess would you have full control of the board by occupying those 4 squares ? I dont think there is an end in sight, thats life you keep rationalizing that you are onto something but at the very end of life which of your accomplisments stand out, was it the masters, the PHD, being a good son, being a good husband…is there an end ….

  6. Nice post. But my argument is that you would have done your masters not to increase your armoury, but because you wanted to do it, out of interest, no? You wanted to know the unknown. The point is – what ever makes you happy. If you are looking at survival then you dont need a masters or a phd. If you are looking at a nice living, you dont need them either. Only because we look for peace of mind and happiness, and if you think that is the way to pursue it, thats the way to pursue it.
    But you definitely got me thinking man!

  7. Assumption is the mother of all fuckups, as old Murphy put it. (I take the liberty to quote him when I don’t know of the orginator.)

    The assumptions here are
    1) You need to win the game. For all you know, you may be into match fixing and your payoffs may hence be tied to your loss rather than win! You may even be playing chess the way people play Roulette in a Casino (expecting to lose).

    2) Old wisdom works. It may or it may not. Nonetheless, all wisdoms, old or new, have costs (time, effort and most affectionately money are costs) and rewards. There is a thing called “Efficient MArket Hypothesis”. The summary of the hypothesis is – every financial instrument traded (without inside information) in a competitive market is priced right based on the risks (statistically, variance) and rewards (statistically, mean future payoffs). Even if old wisdom works, a lot of people know it since it is old wisdom. A lot of participants turn the market into a competitive and hence efficient one. Google stock is priced right based on the available information about Google’s prospects and is never a bargain unless you have inside information. Developing your chess pieces or getting a masters hardly qualifies as inside information. In chess, your opponent is likely to try as hard as he can to stop you from developing your pieces. Overcoming that is a cost. In education, universities that a lot of people find worthy of going to, will make it a hell (economically and personally) to get in and out of. That’s a cost. Making decisions based on rewards and ignoring costs is not too different from stupidity. You just need to have a strategy that works for you. You have have a patentable strategy of winning a game of chess without developing your pieces. If you have one, you don’t have to give a f**k about old wisdom. All decisions you make as a rational man have economic impact. (It would be nice to put a dollar figure on the non-economic impact also and I belive that’s not impossible, albeit difficult). And thus investing in stocks and investing in education and investing in developing chess pieces are not economically different. Let me digress (not really) for an instant. The moment I learnt cash flow analysis in b-school, I realized I’d made a financial mistake coming to b-school.

    3) Populationwide statistics are applicable to you off the shelf. Statistics may indicate that the average salary of people who hold master degrees is higher than the average salary of people who don’t. But this piece of information misses out a lot. It’s applicable to you if and only if you represent that average person in the job market sampled and surveyed. For all you know you may possess the IQ of Einstein as a drop out. On the other hand you may have become braindead after earning your a PhD (like John Nash did). Statistics about average salaries and their correlation with degrees, in the absence of additional information about your IQ, sanity and personality traits (goals, people skills, risk taking ability and hard-working ability et al.) are simply irrelevant. And when it comes to this additional information, we are all unique and the chances of our mirroring the anonymous average participant in the job market are slim at best. For all you know the high correlation of master degrees and average salaries may be correlation of an altogether different kind) if you dig deep enough. Master degree may be (and I believe it is) a proxy for the personality trait of hard work. The actual correlation is probably between hard work and average salary. This is hardly surprising. You work hard you get rich, regardless of your degree. The degree is probably irrelevant, except as a signaling mechanism. If you are not a hard worker, willing to work your butt out for your boss, and you are looking at a branded masters degree as a magic carpet, it’s most likely that your degree is taking you nowhere. I believe this is what the IITs (with well-deserved apologies to Teja), IIMs, Harvards, Stanfords and Oxfords of the world do. They take people who are either smart or hard working or well-connected or rich or more than one of the above, in essence people who are guaranteed to be successful no matter what, and magically turn them…..well….successful!

    About money! Here comes the demigod I worshipped for long without rewards. As Teja said, it helps to have the freedom to make moves in the direction of a checkmate and hence it makes sense to develop your pieces (unless you know a way to checkmate without developing your pieces). Money gives that freedom. That doesn’t mean other tools (may be a free mind, if it’s worth a nickel) don’t afford the freedom. Just that the degrees of freedom afforded by different tools differ. Statistically money has been found to have the greatest correlation with freedom. There are ofcourse exceptions. What’s not statistically clear is how to woo the Mammon cost effectively. (After all there aint no fun in generating $100 outta an investment of $100 in terms of time, money and effort). You need a strategy to turn $100 to $200. It aint possible to do it instantantly. It aint possible in a risk free way. It aint possible if you don’t have $100 to start with. But it’s highly possible and there are too many ways. The problem indeed is that there are too many ways. What you need to do is to get a hang of your risk tolerence, the timeframe you want to be rewarded in and your liquidity constraints. You can then pick a portfolio of investments from stocks to real estate to sports betting to education that fit your risk/reward profile. I belive in this approach to goal setting in life and I recommend the same.

    None of these strategies can earn you a penny if you start without one! The problem is most of us are pennyless rats in a rat race and we are guaranteed to remain so even if we win it by miracle! (If we weren’t not such huge loads of old wisdom would be thrust on us.) The idea pro’ly is to stop participating in the race and start running one.

  8. Allright, Now since I have a blogger account too, it makes sense to answer a few questions (or rather put forth my views which appear as answers ) Since I completed my Masters before U did, I take the liberty to tell that there is something called self-gratification, I do understand that the abundance of the above phenomenon would lead to dire circumstances, but without that there is no essense to live.

    Consider this, I was out of college, working in a white collared job, got what I was worth for, I took a gamble of pursuing my masters which started out as an edifice for opening more channels in my life to prosper (i.e in terms of jobs and money) but through the course as many would have said, did realize that It aint getting you anywhere, coupled with thoughts such as “U are what you are” no education, degree, certificate can make you wiser than what you want to become.

    So what My cult did was…we all sat down and did a reality check ! since we are in this, letz finish it off, but nevertheless we need to develop skills to sell what we did. This is when peers help, you look at others who had the same potential, but didnt do the “Castling”, they might be better placed in the company, but internally U know that u have an edge over them, and Internally they know that U have and edge!…It is that feeling of Self-Gratification (note this is not sadistic pleasure), gets you enough confidende to plan your next “attack”.

    Now for the philosophy…no move or gesture can be termed as a mistake, the result is only an answer to a “Question” that you might have asked yourself when u were thinking deeply.

    Ultimately, it all weighs out to how much money you made out of it, trust me it will follow….(atleast I am living with that ideal..and I have no qualms in saying that I am here to make money {considering what all i did with my career})

  9. Jeez… Guys there is a Draw in Chess, There is a bounded probability. Chess and Life are entirely different, you never ‘lose’ a unknown pawn, a rook or regain the Queen. It is impractical and essense of Military thinking go against it.

    Revolution in Military Affairs have made every soldier a King, the decision maker. Pawn’s make the game. You Adapt in life to every Situation and then the Impromptu plan is better than having Posterity pose before you( they the future…?).

    About relative analogies, who is your ‘opponent'”, it is Life- the great giver, enabler, teacher and the leveller.

    What about Money?.would you be content knowing you never castled?. at least you will get your Queen here. But you will have to lose a Pawn( read 2+ years). Yes Your are right about the Introspection ( esp at IIT) that no matter how good you were you were never THAT good. That is the Hard truth and we have to Adapt, Improvise and Overcome our Mental Notions.

    Give the Ph.D a Good shot, maybe you might realize that It is not a chess game after all.

    All the Best!.

    PS: read this week’s Scientific American about the differences in a GM and a Novice at Chess.

  10. hi
    there is also an endgame , suppose to be tough and with neumorous moves with few optios!!!! it is good to have two rooks instead of one- try play may take much longer-but intresting thing is you will be still playing ( not working)- I mean enjoying- enjoy- good luck- two rooks- 2phD or…..

  11. Thejaswi,

    A great post! Your analogy of RL to life makes excellent sense!

    I can add a little comment: some of us go for the Queen’s sacrifice–aka divorce:) to win the game of Life!

    I liked the central idea of your post–develop pieces when there is no plan in sight and later you are much better off when you need to deploy your ‘pieces’. Going a step further, how about a post on ‘Sicilian Opening’?

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