Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pawns R Us

Chess is a game anyone can play.  It is both simple and complex.  Each side has sixteen pieces which they can move on a fixed checkerboard of sixty four squares.  Yet the combinations of those moves are nearly infinite.

Chess is also the most strategic of board games.  Players maneuver and plot in order to gain ground and eventually corner their opponent’s king.  This ultimate victory is signaled by the checkmate.

The piece of least value is the pawn, yet they number half the pieces on either side.  But if any one pawn can reach the opposite end of the board, the eight row it is transformed into the most powerful piece, the queen.  This rare happenstance is quite often followed by victory.

The most important part of any scheme is secrecy.  One cannot allow his next move to be known lest it become impotent.

A dangerous yet compelling tactic in chess is the sacrifice of a valuable piece.  A player may offer up his queen or even force the opponent to take it with a future winning move in mind.

In every strategic way this process is similar to any political negotiation.  But one of the most glaring differences between the two is that in real life it is the pawn that usually gets sacrificed.

And for those of you unwilling to make the short leap into reality, we are the pawns!  We the people are the least powerful piece in this game.  And even though we number in the millions we are moved around the board by the 500 plus members of Congress.

Take the current game of chess surrounding the health care reform debate.  I use the term debate loosely since in order to have a real debate both sides must actually listen to the other.

The Republicans have rallied around their ‘King’ which in this case is the health insurance lobby.  They have performed a move called ‘castling,’ where they place the king in an unreachable position guarded by a very strong piece.  They are willing to sacrifice any and all of their pawns to keep the king untouched.

Both sides have taken to moving their pieces back and forth while basically staying in the same place.  This delaying tactic could result in a stalemate with the end game of the November elections looming large.

The Democrats have not yet attacked the stronghold of their opponent.  And they have not advanced their pawns toward the eighth row so we remain impotent.

Sensing this inherent weakness the Republicans have even been able to take several TEA breaks while the game plods along.

So who will win this time?  Will Bobby Fisher unleash a tremendous attack on Boris Spassky’s king?  Will Mr. Spassky sacrifice a piece or two in order to defeat Mr. Fisher?

In chess it is usually Black vs. White.  In the current fight it is mostly Blue vs. Red.  But this game has real life implications that no color can replace.  It is rather a life and death game for the “We the Pawns” of America?

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