Chess and the Art of Deception

At my rudimentary level of playing (if “playing” may be the accurate description) and understanding chess, it is a game of deception and decoy; of contrivances to convince your opposition to believe you intend to do X, while all the while planning to do Y.  Aside from being obnoxious, what would one think if, as your opponent is about to make a move, you were to stop him and say, “Excuse me, but if you move that Knight, I would take your Queen.”  This would be acceptable, of course, if you were teaching your son or daughter the game of chess; as the younger, more inexperienced player is about the make a fatal mistake, to caution:  “If you do that, you will lose your Queen.”  Inasmuch as creating a ruse is part of the game of chess; of setting up decoys; of intentionally putting up a moderately important piece (say, a Bishop) as a sacrificial piece in order to set up a deception in order to create the ultimate outcome:  Checkmate.

Yet, where in the rules of the game did the acceptance of deception as a modality of behavior become established?  I do not recall when, as a child, as I was taught the fundamental rules of the game of chess, I was informed that being deceptive was an accepted norm.  No one ever said to me, “Hey there, if you put the pawn there, then wait a few moves, then move the pawn forward and make your opponent think you’re interested in taking his Knight, when all the while you have your Queen sitting in the corner waiting to take his Castle – it’s okay to do that.”  I have never seen the issue of deception explicitly stated in the “Rules of Chess”; but, I suppose, there are books and articles “out there” which include (or “assume”) ploys of deception as being “part of the game”.  It is probably no different than, say, sending all of your wide receivers and tight end out for a long bomb, then pump-faking, then shovel-passing the football to the fullback.  That, too, is a form of deception.  Yet, all of that occurs in a single move, where multiple players are expected to be performing their roles; and, besides, for each of the players on offense, there are an equal number on defense, for a 1-on-1 ratio.  And because all of the players move with fluidity concurrently, to describe the play as a play of “deception” is somehow not the same as planning 4 or 5 moves in the game of chess, while all the while knowing that you are engaging in a ploy of deception.

Thus, one might say, it is a game of dishonest intentions.  But, you counter, just as there is a 1 to 1 ratio of players, so there is the same ratio between two chess players; each player sees the full board in its totality; the one who is deceived is deceived in the open field of the chessboard.  Yes, but it is the intention that makes all the difference.  Yes, but, you counter, isn’t the intention of sending out the wideouts and tight end, all the while knowing that you plan on a draw play, the same type of intentional deception?  Is intentional deception part of a game?  Where and when do we learn it?  How do we learn it?  How does one learn to deceive another?  Does one learn from a “Rule Book of Deception”?  If so, I have never studied from such a book.  Yet, as I play the game of chess, I realize that the greater the deceiver, the more gifted the player.  Inasmuch as I am not much of a chess player, perhaps that is a positive reflection of my character.

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