Unstuck in time

Kurt Vonnegut’s most famous book is Slaughterhouse Five. The hero of the novel is Billy Pilgrim; this character was constructed in part based on five POWs who really were trapped in the firebombing of Dresden.

Of course, Vonnegut being Vonnegut, Billy Pilgrim also has the unusual ability to become “unstuck in time”, so he drifts in and out of the past, present and future.

So I played a chess game against IM Igor Foygel recently. In this position I intended to play …Qxb2, although I did stop for a moment to consider the consequences of chopping the bishop on f5. Nothing there. So on I went with …Qxb2.

After the game, Foygel looked at me and said “Did you know before you took on b2, you touched the bishop?”

Tournament chess is played with a “touch move” rule, meaning if you touch the piece, you have to move it or capture it.

I am sure Igor is right, but I had NO IDEA I actually reached out and touched it during my think. Happily Igor must have decided I was a space cadet and let it go.

Yikes. And there’s an occasional precedent, like the time I ran a red light, mulling over a blindfold position. It concerns me a bit that my mind can wander off so far that I’m unaware of physical reality.

Unstuck from the present.

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5 thoughts on “Unstuck in time

  1. In your modesty, you neglected to mention that you drew that game with the IM. Congrats indeed!

    Igor is indeed a gentleman.

    -Matt

  2. I ran a red light once while observing an exceptionally shapely female behind. It is a form of hypnosis, as is anytime that we begin to direct the mind more fully on a single thing. A serious chess game involves some pretty long periods of this hypnosis, especially as black in the French Defense.

  3. Man, I’m getting slow…

    I got “surrender”, “Maginot line”, and “white wins” in my head but can’t put them together. It’s Friday; I’m tired.

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