Ghosts: Inside the Bestiary, Part One

Some ghosts serve their creators as carriers of transcendental truth, as visible or audible signs of Spirit. Other ghosts carry the burden of tradition and collective memory…ancestral apparitions often act as correctives to the insularities of individuality, as links to lost families and communities, or as reminders of communal crimes, crises, cruelties…. – Lois Parkinson Zamora Magical Romance/Magical Realism: Ghosts in U.S and Latin American Fiction

All tournament-goers believe in ghosts; threats that hold no true power. There’s a moment in every game where the limen between the real and unreal fades to nothing. Amateurs make minor concessions when not required, and surrender initiative without reason. True to the quote above, what we see in front of us is our own history- warped by past mistakes. Let’s get cozy with our cast of ghosts, in ascending order of malevolence. Later we’ll talk about how we can bust these phantasms like they deserve.

Casper the Friendly Ghost: It is a harmless one-mover without an ulterior motive. It drifts from move to move “booing” for no good reason. If your opponent is Casper, you can often use the inclination to chase you to your advantage. Keep your position fluid and open. Casper hopes that by making you move you’ll eventually slip up and give him a tactic with which to win. This is its only power.

The Headless Horseman: This one is a bit more dangerous. Its cognition is not fully there , being, sans head, but HH certainly is aggressive. Don’t worry about subterfuge; creation of a hole or another strategic weakness is not the goal. Material is the focus. The Headless Horseman baldly tries to pick on your overworked pieces, pieces that share one another’s squares, or lack of space. HH sees weaknesses even though it finds them difficult to exploit; it is terrible at creating multiple threats to undermine your defense. HH will pile everything but the kitchen sink onto an isolated pawn when he would be better off using the opponent’s immobility to attack another area. Naturally the more you respond to this knight errant the more powerful he becomes.

Ghost Dad: Bill Cosby played a father with a heart of gold, killed by a taxi-driving maniac. He has only a few days to become a better person and straighten out his priorities. His motivations are sincere and he has a definite plan to get a favorable result. Ghost dad threatens to use your vulnerabilities to aid his development, plunges his h-pawn forward, and plays a4 after you play a6. Not only does he make threats but he anticipates your responses. He is willing to consider positional aspects to achieve his goals.

Frederick Krueger – More intimidating than the previous because like a true ghost he gets into your head. In fact if you don’t wake up soon from the dreams he inspires you’ll certainly be lost. Kreuger inspires phatasmagoria and an inability to know which parts of the onslaught are real and which are fake. Robert Englund’s serial killer can stay with you between games and scare you whenever you see his likeness.

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