The Zen of SILVER BROWN

The Ultimate Social Distancing Sport

Actual people exist who practice chess as a high science. A few of them I’ve met. In person, to boot. I’m more the other kind of player, though. The kind who play the game strictly for shits and giggles. There’s probably a slight ring of truth to the high science bit methinks, after having played against opponents from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds hailing from multiple countries (ain’t the Internet grand?). This is a truly universal language, like mathematics. No matter what flag they hoist or what tongue their mama spoke or what god(dess)(e)(s) (or lack thereof) they believe in, all the world loves a good chess game.

Not all chess players are created equal, of course. The feeble and weak-minded ones are the least fun to play against. Prone to automatically resign from the game without so much as a moment’s pause the second their queen gets bumped off. Often with all or most of their remaining material intact, like it never dawns on them that other pieces exist aside from the queen. I imagine this person to be of the emotionally brittle type who would go berserk and rob their neighbourhood liquor store at gunpoint if they should happen to lose their car keys.


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Players of a slightly-higher-but-not-the-highest calibre play with the skill and cunning of a master swordsman up until the final moves of the middlegame, when they abruptly quit in disgust after their opponent offs somebody vital to their whole checkmate strategy, like their last rook. These players can handle their stress, but you get that sense they don’t really understand what the game is about. They treat it like it’s a union gig or an office job, refusing to do any task that might endanger them.

The best players are the warriors. The gung-ho ones who never say die and fight until the bitter end. They make up about five percent of all the people I’ve ever played against. In a perfect world, I would always play against a warrior. Alas, a more typical opponent is somebody like the gentleman playing Black in the figure below, who reacted rather whimsically to my checking his king and sentencing his queen to certain doom…


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I don’t always win. Nobody’s invincible. But even when all hope is seemingly lost, I rest on the knowledge accrued through a great deal of practical experience that this game punishes pride almost as ruthlessly as it punishes incompetence. You can eliminate all your opponent’s material and still bugger yourself by getting drunk with power and ending the game in an accidental stalemate. Like this guy did with his five queens…


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The Zen of SILVER BROWN

The Tao of Bill/The Te of Ted

People tend to forget all about that shit nowadays, most only dimly aware that The Matrix was not Keanu Reeves’ first movie. But to the best of my knowledge, being excellent to each other hasn’t been criminalized yet. Party on, dudes!


 

The Zen of SILVER BROWN

A Yuletide Banff After Dark

A fount of literary inspiration is nestled somewhere deep in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. A little place they call Banff. The name is Scottish in origin, according to what I just read on the official website. An appellation borne by both Canada’s oldest national park and the main town within said park. In the vernacular of this great land of beavers and poutine, most talk of Banff centers around the park. Yet contrary to what some people (mostly east of Winnipeg) believe, a town called Banff exists. I present this morning to the fine folks of Planet Earth an exhibit of original photographic evidence of its existence.

Everybody knows there is no Walt Disney World in Canada. But there’s Banff, and that’s close enough. It’s a town where the streets are all named after woodland critters. Where you can buy a shot of vodka from a street vendor like you’d buy a hot dog in a different city where provincial liquor laws aren’t nearly as lax. If that sort of thing turns your crank. During the height of ski season, half the population suddenly becomes Australian…


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…and the street vendors construct their booths out of ice. Because they can.

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Yes, buffalo and caribou with a Japanese translation. Welcome to Alberta.

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In Alberta, Christmas is in January. So I can get away with posting this.

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Even the local Toxic Ronnie’s is lah-di-dah.

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…and who doesn’t?

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