Two bishops side by side put pressure at long range on the pawns defending the castled Black king. My queen, ready to advance to the middle of the board, completes the threat. Black will have to weaken his defence by advancing a pawn. There are further forces I can bring into play. I find it slightly frustrating that my mechanical opponent either knows what I mean to do or has taken standard precautions: there's a knight in the way, and I can't get at it. My plan - single-minded, bloody-minded, suicidal - revolves around a single square, h7, and he has it covered. Evidently, an all-out attack in the middle game isn't the answer: there will be refutations, counter-attacks, sacrifices and exchanges; the balance of power will change. A dramatic early mate following an unstoppable combination would be a good way to win a game of chess, but I've never won like this. In fact, I've rarely won. I know the moves (though I have to remind myself how the en passant rule works), I can follow the basic openings, and I know the principles of development - advance bishops and knights, line up the rooks. But I can't seem to beat anyone other than myself. I'm not patient enough. I don't play well enough.
LRB 3 April 2003 | PDF Download