by National Life Master Loal Davis
Chess has always been a part of the various Star Trek series.
In the Star Trek Enterprise series the bodies of Malcolm and Travis are taken over by alien entities and in that guise (top diagram in this post) the following conversation takes place.
Malcolm: You’re really starting to get a feel for the game.
Travis: 32 pieces 64 squares it’s not as if it’s difficult. The total number of outcomes is limited.
Malcolm: 10 to 123rd power.
Travis: That’s what I mean – chess is so predictable. I’m surprised anyone bothers to play it.
For the record, current understanding/perception is that the number of ATOMS in the observable universe is somewhere between 10 to the 78th to 10 to the 82nd power. Malcolm is “fuzzing about” 10 to the 123rd power – like that has some meaning to him or anybody else.
The unmitigated arrogance in the above conversation is staggering – even humorous. Even IF you can categorize, capture, and label all of the moves, that doesn’t even begin to select a move and harmonize/merge that move with other moves in the execution of a meaningful plan.
They spin the board around changing colors, Travis taking White, and begin a game – a VERY short game. This grabbed my attention as I have devoted some study to the Caro Kann and Malcolm began with that defense.
Here we go.
1. e4 c6
The Caro Kann
2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6
I believe a discovery by Nimzovich. Today it is often referred to as the Bronstein/Larsen variation.
5. Qd3 e5 6. dxe5 Qa5+
At this point Travis says,
“Queen check – you’ll win in 5 moves.”
Malcolm responds with,
“I’m the ship’s champion; I win all the tournaments.”
The absolute ridiculousness of this banter is that there is NOTHING forced in five moves. A N D it is White who wins this game; NOT Black. What am I talking about? Well – this game is actually, or was actually played in 1910 in Vienna between Richard Reti and Saviely Tartakower. Reti won a very short and sort-of famous game. The game did actually last another five moves – I give the Star Trek writers a nod for that one – BUT – again – nothing is forced – Black does not have to go off to slaughter – and again – White (not Black) wins this by a nice tactic.
Let’s take a look at the real game.
White “Reti, Richard”
Black “Tartakower, Saviely”
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Qd3 e5 6. dxe5 Qa5+ 7. Bd2 Qxe5 8. O-O-O Nxe4
A Beauty !
Kxd8 10. Bg5+ Kc7 11. Bd8# 1-0
Of course the King could have gone to ‘e8’ on move 10, in which case White mates with the Rook.