ARTICLE #35 [First published in April 1991 Chicago Point]

The Pinnacle

In last month’s Chicago Point, Kathy Posner wrote a letter to the editor objecting to my February Fortune Cookie: “The most effective players are rarely involved in flamboyant plays.” I agree with Kathy’s observation that the dehumanizing nature of mathematical thinking takes away the charm of battle and that flamboyant plays lend style and mystery to what others might view as a sometimes-dreary endeavor.

Not all of us are gifted with the ability to instantaneously analyze a position. To become competitive with that type of player, some of us must utilize certain tools. Equations and mathematical models yield the experience of numbers. These resources give us the ability to create a database representing hundreds of lifetimes of trials.

It may seem unfair to neutralize the God-given talent of an exceptional player through the science of statistics. however, there is no law against that exceptional player utilizing these aids to propel himself beyond his own capabilities.

What about the time when the limitation of expanding knowledge causes competitive parity? could all of our games reach an equally high level of proficiency reducing our incentive to improve? The required dedication necessary to attain this goal is a possibility. But in reality, staying at the pinnacle of achievement is just too much work except for a small group of players on the lunatic fringe.

Fortune Cookie
The certainty of hindsight will never replace a good pair of glasses.

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