May 20, 2005 1:53 PM   Subscribe

Chess, as a political metaphor and ideological weapon.
posted by semmi (8 comments total)
Didja know - there was a musical? (I have an info site about it, but didn't want to self-link.) I find the discussion of chess as a metaphor without mentioning my favorite cult show (as the recent book Bobby Fischer Goes to War does) as a bit...bleh. But that's just me.
posted by graymouser at 2:05 PM on May 20, 2005

posted by AlexReynolds at 3:17 PM on May 20, 2005

I was going to post on chess today, but decided otherwise. Weird.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:34 PM on May 20, 2005

The Thinking Machine!
posted by bonecrusher at 3:48 PM on May 20, 2005

Odd that they didn't mention the military character of the chess pieces. It is so close that military branches associate with particular pieces: Engineers are the Rook, and even use the "castle" as their symbol; Cavalry (or Light Cavalry) is the Knight; the Bishop is Heavy Cavalry; and Artillery is known as 'The Queen of Battle'. Pawns, of course, are the Infantry. The King is the Headquarters Command, which is why it is critical, yet has little personal defenses.

The master of the military chessboard was Napoleon Bonarparte, whose strategy was maneuver over "the chessboard", using his "pieces" to such effect that he managed to *capture* an enemy army at Ulm, just by maneuver alone. This was followed by the battle of Austerlitz, in which his single army defeated three enemy armies, in what is commonly believed to be the greatest tactical battle in history.

This use of military branches like chess pieces was so definitive that it became the standard until the US Civil War, in which *both* sides tried to use those tactics, and discovered that when both sides did this, a near stalemate developed, that would be called "trench warfare" in WWI.

Those nations that fought in WWI discovered this terrible truth, and had to create new tactics against this chessboard approach--except for Russia, which left the war early. And so, irony of ironies, the Russians kept these Napoleonic tactics, going so far as to integrate modern weapons, even nuclear weapons, into it. Tactics they kept until the fall of the Soviet Union.

Gulf War I was the first real large scale conflict between these old tactics (Iraq), and the new tactics (US). The Russian command and general staff were horrified at how ineffectual their tactics had become--and doubly horrified as to what would have happened to the Russian forces had there been a European war against the US.

They are still remodeling their military.
posted by kablam at 7:30 PM on May 20, 2005

Chess fails as a true way of modelling any military confrontation because the pieces are known and the tactics are known. Innovation in tactics and techniques changes everything.

Another way to express chess's failure is to consider 9/11.

The US is still remodeling their military.
posted by sien at 7:49 PM on May 20, 2005

I've simulated 9/11 in chess. I took a sledgehammer to the other half of the board while my opponent was getting a drink.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:23 PM on May 20, 2005

9/11? Queen's move.
posted by TimothyMason at 12:23 PM on May 26, 2005

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