Putting the question to the bishop.
IĎve heard this expressed by GMs during many a Chess Fm broadcast.
It comes out whenever a pawn is pushed on a3, h3, a6, or h6 and it attacks
the opposing bishop. Iíve always wondered, what question was actually
put to the bishop? The ChessFmers never tell you what the question is that
was put to the bishop. Itís a big secret. Iím a pretty good
chess player. I think that if I knew what the actual question was, it
would give me the missing piece of the chess puzzle. It's the missing link
that evades my true understanding of this game. I feel the question
is the key to my chess mastery.
When I did an occasional broadcast for Chess FM. I was
always afraid to say ďTony, White puts the question to the bishop.Ē
I just felt I could not say it with the conviction of a titled player. I
was always afraid that if I did, then some kibitzer would ask me ďWell
Hangin, what question did white put to the bishop?Ē I wouldnít
know the answer. This got me thinking. I did a LEKO, thatís a
deep think for all of you who did not watch Kramnik vs. Leko. I was wondering for each piece what questions I should ask
them, when I put the question to them. I think all good chess players need
to do home analysis. Sometimes you got to bust out the board and pieces
and do some analysis all by yourself. You donít always have access
to titled players. Plus chess mastery begins with you. If you want to
improve you must work on your own sometimes. So I finished my analysis on
this subject and came up with questions for all the pieces. So the next
time I put the question to a piece. I know what to ask. Itís just like
knowing opening theory.
I thought about putting the question to a
knight, or a horse. I thought you could talk to animals. People talk to
their dogs and cats all the time. So I would ask the knight, do you need
any hay or water? Can I clean your stable? Do you need to be brushed?
Howís your saddle? You can tell what an animal needs.
Now itís not that easy for a rook or a castle. It
gets a little tricky. Itís a building and I know it canít
communicate with me. So I thought, well, hey, lets walk up to it and knock
on the door. You have to talk to the people inside the castle. You
can ask them if the establishment is open? Is it a bed and
breakfast place? Is there room at the inn? Do you have
termites? You could simply say you're lost and ask for directions. Those
are the kind of questions you need to put to the castle.
Now when it comes to royalty, itís really
tricky. You must be careful putting the question to the queen. First of
all you must be very respectful. You know who her husband is. Plus
she is the strongest piece on the board. Iíd probably get tongue-tied
and turn red. I would want to be very helpful. But if I did get a question
out, I would ask her majesty if I could be of service to her. Naturally I
would kneel and bow my head when the question was asked. I think this is
the best way to treat the lady.
Now it gets very dangerous when you put the question to
the King, if you dare to. I personally would be afraid to put the
question to the king. Like the queen, we are talking about royalty. You
never know how he would react to the question. Who knows, the king might
get upset and chop your head off. Look what happened to King Henryís
wives. So with kings itís probably better not to ask a question. I
think itís better to be seen and not heard. But if you have to put
the question to the king, it better be a good one. Donít ask me.
Now it gets easy. You know, Iím 1800 ICC rated.
When it comes to pawns, I am not asking a pawn anything. In fact, I'm
telling a pawn where to go!! You know like ďscram kid.Ē Iím
not taking any crap from a pawn. Man, Iím rated 1800 for crying out
loud. But just be careful with those passed pawns on the 6th or 7th
rank. That's when you start treating them with respect. God forbid you
disrespected a pawn and it makes it to the 8th rank. Pawns are like
elephants. They have long memories. You need to be careful
So we are back to where this all started. What
question to put to the bishop? Players are always putting the
question to the bishop. In fact bishops probably get the most questions.
Iíve given this one a deep LEKO. We are talking about a man of the
cloth, so I would seek solace in his wisdom. In the past when I
played and put the question to the bishop, I always thought the bishop
knew I was bluffing. I always thought the bishop never respected me.
Maybe this is why many of my attacks failed. I never actually sought out his
advice. Iíve given it plenty of thought now. I would tell him
about my sins and ask for his forgiveness. In a kind of confession, I
would seek out his spiritual guidance.
Those are my questions to the pieces. I am wondering if
the questions differ based on ratings? Do masters ask one question and IMs
ask another? Does the GM have yet another set of questions? What questions
do Kramnik and Leko ask? How about Vishy Anand or Garry Kasparov? What questions
do the silicon monsters like Fritz and Deep Junior ask? I would love to
know their questions, but thatís another piece for another time.