The Will to Win

I saw a black cat eating grass the other day during a drive through Philadelphia. I looked into its lantern eyes and there wasn’t a trace of contempt; it was thankfully rooting shoots up from the ground even as our stoplight turned from red to green. I hope that on those days that I’m spiritually reduced to such bare-earth clawing, that I can muster such equanimity.

Humans in dire straits often become aloof, and cling to old notions of how things should be; we design a future world based on the glory of our own antiquity. Sometimes we should instead rework our own ideas to achieve something practical. I’ve volunteered in homeless shelters where I’ve found patrons refusing to eat the food given them. Someday there will be an end of the world, both of our own private life and society’s at large, but until then no situation is so terrible; play out your private drama. It is the only thing that’s yours alone.

Since I know you’re above such sincere gestures as gnawing at festuca, maybe we can start with something smaller. When you find most of your pieces consigned to an opponent, don’t concede. Muster what you have in the best way you know how. If you feel hopelessness, ignore it; if you feel angry, banish it; if you feel ashamed of being ground down, enjoy the perfect freedom of facing an insuperable difficulty.

Everyone loses, but in a chess match you get to do so slowly, with plenty of time to sit and understand. Many of our difficulties in life, by contrast, engulf us completely and in the swirl of one moment. These tough times offer little to make us immediately mindful. I like to sit being a queen down and learn a little bit more about who I am. I like the knowing, sad-eyed spectators. I’ll see them in the lobby, in about three hours, with a wonderful story!

I’d like to present a beautiful game that reinforces my idea.

Evans – Reshevsky (1963) “The Swindle of the Century”

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 c5 5. Bd3 O-O 6. Nf3 d5 7. O-O dxc4 8. Bxc4
Nbd7 9. Qe2 a6 10. a3 cxd4 11. axb4 dxc3 12. bxc3 Qc7 13. e4 e5 14. Bb2 Nb6 15.
Bb3 Bg4 16. Ra5 Rac8 17. c4 Nbd7 18. h3 Bxf3 19. Qxf3 Rfe8 20. Rd1 Ra8 21. c5
Rad8 22. Ba4 Re7 23. Rd6 b5 24. Bc2 Nxc5 25. Rxd8+ Qxd8 26. Qe3 Ncd7 27. Qd3
Qb6 28. Bc1 h6 29. Be3 Qb7 30. f3 Nb8 31. Ra2 Rd7 32. Qa3 Kh7 33. Kh2 Qc7 34.
Bd3 Nh5 35. Rc2 Qd8 36. Bf1 Rd1 37. Rc1 Rd6 38. Qa2 Qf6 39. Rc7 Nd7 40. Ra7 Nf4
41. Qc2 h5 42. Qc8 Rd1 43. Bxb5 Qg5 44. g3 axb5 45. Rxd7 Re1 46. Rxf7 Rxe3 47.
h4 Re2+ 48. Kh1 Qxg3 49. Qg8+ Kxg8 50. Rxg7+ *


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