If you haven’t already seen “The Queen’s Gambit”, you probably have a lot of people telling you that you should… and they’re right. It’s really, really good. You probably know that it’s about chess, but, like chess itself, it’s about a lot more.
The basics of chess are easy to learn; anyone can learn how the pieces move in less than 10 minutes. But then you spend a lifetime trying to move them well. I’m happy that series came into this household… I only wish it’d been at the start of this pandemic. There would’ve been a lot more quality screen time in those early days.
It was funny… a few nights ago, to hear my son yell for me… “Dad! Help!” – I ran over there… what, is the room on fire? No… he was on chess.com, playing against some guy in Russia, and found himself in a precarious position, not quite sure what to do because he thought he was about to lose his queen. That’s quality father/son time right there, ganging up to beat some Russian in chess. Right on.
I get the impression that Donald Trump wouldn’t be a very good chess player, and here’s why I think that: Chess requires you to think a few moves ahead, and if you can’t do that, you have zero chance of success. Just like in life, if you lead it in such a way that’s entirely reactionary – stimulus/response, stimulus/response… you’re going to have a tough go of it. That lifestyle works well for single-celled organisms, but our real world is a lot more complicated than a paramecium needing to navigate a petri dish. And in chess, if every time you move a piece it gets taken… and then you stare at the board wondering how that could’ve happened… well, you’re doing it wrong.
The stimulus/response pattern of the soon-to-be-former-president is something I guess we’ve gotten used to over the last four years, but now that he’s on his way out, it’s a little more pathetic than it used to be.
Actually, at the start, it was far from pathetic; it was frightening, with real-world consequences.
Early in the presidency, Trump was watching TV and saw something… and then Tweeted about how the new Air Force One is too expensive, and “Cancel Order!” There’s a lot of misinformation in that Tweet to begin with, but the immediate response was a sharp drop in Boeing’s stock price. It recovered quickly when people realized the president didn’t know what he was talking about, but the damage was done, and it was a good indication that this guy shoots from the hip and doesn’t really consider the implications. Much bigger and broader shooting from the hip was his unilateral and unexpected Muslim travel ban. Never mind that it violated the first amendment, the fifth amendment, the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Administrative Procedure Act… who cares. You can see Trump, with his infallible logic… Muslim = Terrorist, Terrorist = Bad, Banning Bad is good… what’s the problem? No need to consider the consequences. We all remember the chaos that resulted, and how much effort it took to resolve it.
But these days, with only 53 days, 15 hours and 57 minutes (but who’s counting) left in his presidency, his shooting from the hip holds little clout. Now, it’s the same old baseless nonsense, and none of it is surprising to hear. I honestly thought he might have some surprises waiting in the wings, but… nothing. Like an awful chess player, he telegraphed ahead everything he had planned. He called the election a fraud before it even took place, threatened he had lawyers in place ready to challenge it, and, as a result, everyone was ready for it. He served up exactly what was expected.
Of course, there was no wide-spread fraud, and the “superstar” team of lawyers who were happy to say “Yes! Yes! Yes!” to him in person, and who were happy to take his money… most of them bailed before making complete fools of themselves. Those that stuck it out longer faced serious admonition from judges who were not happy to see their court’s time wasted with this nonsense, especially when the stakes were so high. Vague handwaving and unfounded, grandiose statements don’t work well in a court of law. Case after case was thrown out, some of them angrily.
At a recent press conference, Donald Trump was repeatedly asked if he was going to concede. His long-winded answers of irrelevant bullshit and false claims were exactly what we’ve grown accustomed to. He never answered the question, which of course, in itself, is the answer.
If this were a chess match, he’d be the king, pretty much left all alone. All that’s left of his colour is the king itself… and a few pawns. The other side has more than it needs… the queen, a rook or two, a knight or two. A bishop. Perhaps a few pawns. Perhaps 80 million pawns. Whatever.
In 53 days, 15 hours and 57 minutes, his Tweets will go from presidential and influential… to those from just another right-wing conspiracy-theory-believing nut-job. Right now, he could be Tweeting about how maybe masks aren’t such a bad idea. How maybe a little social distancing wouldn’t hurt. Will he do that? Of course not.
And during that time, more than 5 million Americans will become infected with C19, and more than 100,000 will die. And, after all of that, Donald Trump, the former president, will have the rest of his life to think about what he did, what he didn’t do, and what a mess he left behind. Maybe he can think about it while he’s sitting in prison, where he belongs… and where there isn’t much else to do.
Well, I guess he could always take up chess.
Follow & Discuss on Facebook