01 May 2015

Predictability is asking for trouble

This is the twenty eighth in a series of articles on rebels and rebellion written for the FREE section of 'The Nation'. Scroll to the end for other articles in this series.  'FREE' is dedicated to youth and youthfulness.

If you’ve never played chess or know nothing about the Game of Kings and all the poetry that can be conjured on 64 squares, don’t worry.  This is not about chess. 

This happened way back in the year 1984.  It was the Sri Lanka Open Chess Championship.  There were many schoolboys who had qualified to play in this tournament.  Two of them met in one round.  The player with the black pieces picked a sharp line in what is called the Sicilian Defence.  If white knows theory  white wins in most cases when black opts to play the Lasker-Pelikan version of the Sicilian. Black, however, has many options and can often surprise white. 

The player with the white pieces walked into a trap.  White gained some material but black had a clear and winning edge.  Unfortunately, black was lax in his preparation.  The position that materialized was identical to that obtained by the then Women’s World Champion Nona Gaprindashvili.  Black knew he had the advantage but hadn’t worked out the continuation.  He lost.

In the very next round, the same player had to play with the black pieces.  His opponent who had watched the previous day’s game played the same sequence of moves as white.  The same position came up.   Having lost the previous game, our friend had analyzed all the lines and was ready.  He creamed his opponent. 

There’s a lesson here for the rebel.  You should not walk the same path twice, metaphorically speaking.  Routine is dangerous because it gives the enemy extra opportunities to study you, observe behavior and figure out patterns.  Traps can thereafter be laid. 

It’s simple, there are often more than one route that gets you to a particular destination (again, speaking metaphorically).  One might take a bit longer or be a bit more difficult, but that’s ok.  The key thing is to mix things up.  If you are predictable, you are dead (metaphorically).  

 Other articles in this series