Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lessons from Chess and MineCraft

Former Chess Grandmaster, Emanuel Lasker, wrote that Chess didn't have any parallels with modern military strategy. I disagree. Maybe not in the way Lasker was meaning, but politically-speaking, there are numerous parallels between the game of Chess and a corrupt society, political and social order.

First, Chess teaches that some pieces on the board are more valuable than others. Pieces are given values. Pawns are worth (1), Bishops and Knights (3), Rooks (5), and the Queen (9). The King is invaluable. In the Chess system, the differing values creates a cast system with Royalty, Clergy, Military, Craftsman (Rooks), and Workers (Pawns). American Judeo-Christian values teach that all men are created equal.

According to Christianity, Christ taught that the greatest act was for a man to give his life for another. In the game of Chess, all the rest of the pieces are sacrificed to save the King from capture (kings are never killed).

Another interesting parallels are the light and dark square Bishops. Like clergy today, they can't really touch you unless you are a member of their religion. This is like a light-square bishop's inability to attack an opposing piece as long as it stays on the dark squares.

Despite Lasker's comments I also find a military parallel between the movement of the knights and modern military tactics. Knights are very mobile pieces and are the only piece that can jump over other pieces. Knights also are the only pieces that attack asymmetrically. The key to military victory has always been asymmetric attack. An army with any ambition to win a war never just wants to line up toe-to-toe against his adversary and start shooting. Winning armies always implement some asymmetry attack to tip the scales in their favor whether its a flanking maneuver, ambush, or technological advantage.

Additionally, modern military still makes use of the idea of the gambit. I think the most famous gambit in the history of war was the Australian Dardanelles/Gallipoli Campaign against the Ottoman Empire. The UK lost many outdated battleships and fooled the Turks into thinking they had a chance in the War. Pearl Harbor could also be considered another famous gambit.

Since we all live in a corrupt society; there is hope. While the Queen is considered the most powerful piece of the board. In reality, if the 2 Rooks play together, "Connected Rooks" at (10) points become the most powerful pieces on the board.

Royalty understand the ins and outs of Chess too well and know the educated and skilled middle class are their greatest threat. That is why despots and tyrants always attack the middle class. Monarchs prefer that everyone be mindless pawns. One day I hope to live in a society where there are no royalty, military or separate clergy or pawns. Christ wanted a people who all were a holy nation and a royal priesthood where every man was a king, a priest, and a master-caftsman.

My son has been playing a video game called mine-craft. This simple game involves a world made up of millions small cubes that represent dirt, sand, stone or various minerals. Friends can create a world and host friends and family via the internet and interact together in their virtual world. However, mine-craft servers communities tend not reflect the the best in society.

Invariably, whomever is hosting the server, is the Administrator and has more power, privileges and permissions than the other players. As the community grows, the "Admin" like a king will deal out permissions to his friends to help run the server. Inevitably, the "Admin" and his "Ops" will use their special permissions to "grief" the other players on the server. Griefing is done by destroying or stealing virtual property, harassing or otherwise cyberbullying others.

My children and I have had valuable conversations about the organization of minecraft servers and started our own server were we have tried to set up a more equitable and safe gaming experience for close family and friends. We talk about how many countries throughout history were set up with a king like corrupt minecraft servers. However, we also talk about what a miracle it was that the Founding Fathers of the United States got together and came to a consensus (not compromise), on the establishment of an equitable nation ruled by just laws and elected representatives chosen by the people.

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