Every now and then I come across one more mental tool for tackling the world around me. Sometimes this is a lens through which to examine things through, other times it's more of a handle to grasp and work from. Today it was an additional way to think about games and activities.

A little preamble - chess. Personally I'm not interested in the game. It clearly takes a lot of skill to play well, I don't doubt that, the problem I have with it is that it's not fun. I'm sure plenty of people finding immensely entertaining but sadly I do not count myself in their number. I can see how it'd be fun in a much more boring world, for example if played by post. That's not the world I live in and as such it seems intensely dull.

Listening to an episode of Radiolab I learned about "book moves":



Chess has a set number of moves. Certainly the number of possible games is a ludicrous amount but that's because each additional move drastically raises the count. As a result we have a whole library of ways to start a game. Fritz is basically that, from what I understood.

Essentially any given game will start out "in book" (a documented state) and at a certain point will go "out of book". When it reaches that state the game is unique.

My problem with chess is the fact that there's such a vast library of knowledge on how to play it. It's just a matter of time before it's a solved game. Don't get me wrong - that might happen in the next ten years or long after I die of old age, I'm not suggesting it's necessarily soon, just that it will, in theory, be solved.

If the game is solved then there's not only no point in being creative in playing it, it's actively detrimental to winning. To me that's slow death. I've felt this way for a long time but it's only today that I learn names and examples in order to be able to better explain it. What I love about Gorkamorka is that there's no risk of it ever being solved. There are combinations that work better than others but there are so many more elements in play as to make other strategies plenty viable. I love that!

Chess is not the only game that is affected by this, I feel, it's the same reason I don't enjoy competitive video games. There are a number of ways to best win and deviating from those strategies is tantamount to conceding defeat from the outset. I do not like to play games where I'm being told specifically how to play - I want to be able to be creative. Hearing strategies that have worked for others is fine, as long as they're not the way, merely a way.

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