Greetings, my fellow chess fans. Welcome to The Chessmaster.
That is, welcome to a new feature where I, The Chessmaster, will answer your personal letters to the best of my chessly ability.
Since I have been playing chess almost non-stop for over 300 years, I thought it might be a good time to bring my accumulated wisdom directly to the people.
In preparation for this column, I have been soliciting questions from a troubled American populace for the last six months. It is my hope that my responses will benefit all readers as much as they help those who submitted the questions.
With that out of the way, let's get to the first question.
Dear The Chessmaster,
I recently flunked out of College because my boyfriend keeps distracting me while I study. Every time I'm around him, he demands to be intimate with me, even though I just want a quiet romantic night and some stimulating intellectual conversation. What do you think I should do?
- Furious in Burious, Nebraska
You shouldn't worry too much about your openings. It's worth having a consistent repertoire so that you play familiar positions and get some experience in them, but don't bother learning 22 moves deep to the latest grandmaster technique. You won't really know what's going on.
I'd recommend keeping it simple, with 1. e4, preferably a Ruy if Black allows it, and play either 1. …e5 or the Sicilian as Black against it. Against 1. d4, QGD. These are good openings to learn with, and knowing them well is an asset down the line — even if you eventually decide to switch to something more sophisticated.
My wife and I have been married for 20 years. While reviewing our bills, I noticed that our cellphone usage had increased. I asked my wife about it, and she explained that she was just talking to friends.
It turns out she was calling a former male co-worker. I found a photo of a nude man licking an antique chess board on her phone. She tried to pass it off as a joke and then said he'd been drinking when he sent it. But there were plenty of late-night texts and calls, and I found that she was also sending intimate photos of herself to him.
I feel betrayed. We have talked, but she denies any wrongdoing. I have read that phone-related cheating is on the rise, so I am considering seeing a therapist. Do you think this is wise?
– Worried in Winchester
The French Chess Federation suspended three top players last September for cheating at a chess olympiad. The trio used an elaborate scheme of text messages and computer software to execute their stunning deceit.
I recommend that you see a good counselor who can give you advice tailored to your exact needs and playing style. The counselor doesn't need to be a professional chess teacher — in fact, any player significantly stronger than you (I suggest a rating of 2000 or higher as a minimum) should help you enormously.
With the help of this counselor, go step-by-step through your previous matches and analyze any specific chess position of interest for you. When I started in chess years ago, I found kind mentors in my local Venetian chess club — people rated over 2200 who eagerly analyzed my games with me, even if I was a mere 1500 player at the time. It helped tremendously. You won't find chess explained that way in a book.
– The Chessmaster
I run a small business and I recently discovered that my co-founder has been embezzling money from the company by writing himself checks and short-changing the petty cash. Should I confront him about this issue personally, or should I slowly poison his coffee over time? I feel that it might teach him a good lesson.
- Conflicted in Connecticut
If you are white, move the king pawn forward two squares, followed by black moving their king pawn forward two squares to start the process. White then moves king bishop to attack black's king bishop pawn. If black does not see this coming, white places its queen in a position to attack black's king bishop pawn. If black does not defend the coming attack, then white has checkmate the next move by taking black's king bishop pawn with the queen.
– The Chessmaster
In the final series of the Spassky and Romanov showdown in 1968, Spassky opened with an inverse Petersson maneuver that seemed to have Romanov stumped on his weak King's side. What would you have done to counter such a maneuver?
- Simon Canterville
I am not comfortable giving advice of such a personal nature. For future reference, readers should direct similar questions to Ann Landers.