CHESS

The Star Early Edition - - TONIGHT COMICS - Mark Ru­bery

Henri Rinck (1750-1952) was, along with Troitzky, re­garded as the prin­ci­pal founder of mod­ern study com­pos­ing. He was born in Lyon, France, to an af­flu­ent fam­ily who had in­ter­ests in the brew­ing in­dus­try. In 1900 he moved to Spain where he be­gan to com­pose chess prob­lems spe­cial­is­ing in po­si­tions with­out pawns – in 1929 he com­posed more than 100 stud­ies on the theme of one rook and two mi­nor pieces v queen. In 1930, the French cham­pion and endgame the­o­reti­cian An­dre Cheron paid a trib­ute to Rinck’s artistry, call­ing him “The Vic­tor Hugo of Chess”. He was de­scribed as an im­mod­est man when it came to his own cre­ations, while at the same time he was jeal­ous of Troitzky’s stel­lar rep­u­ta­tion in the field of com­pos­ing. Rinck pub­lished col­lec­tions of his stud­ies cul­mi­nat­ing in his

1414 Fin de par­ties, an 800-page tome con­tain­ing all his stud­ies in­clud­ing 130 ex­am­ples of the endgame, two rooks vs two mi­nor pieces. At his re­quest a copy was buried with him un­der his arm. The fol­low­ing study is thus de­scribed by Kavalek: “A play­ful work, in which the white King walks like a drunk, but is able to help the two Rooks de­feat the black Queen.” There are many “Chess is…” quo­ta­tions, but few can ri­val the fol­low­ing in depth and per­haps cyn­i­cism. “Chess may well be the deep­est, least ex­haustible of pas­times, but it is noth­ing more. Bobby Fis­cher’s as­ser­tion that it is ‘ev­ery­thing’ is merely nec­es­sary mono­ma­nia. The propo­si­tion it­self is grotesque. Con­cern­ing Goethe, chess is not ‘the touch­stone of the in­tel­lect’ but only a rad­i­cally ster­ile form of play. The prob­lems it poses are at the same time very deep and ut­terly triv­ial. We have no log­i­cal-philo­soph­i­cal rubric for this mys­te­ri­ous qual­ity of ‘triv­ial’ depth, a form of men­tal life ul­ti­mately in­signif­i­cant – though enor­mously mean­ing­ful – and trapped in a world of mir­rors. Though most of us would ab­hor the sug­ges­tion, this ‘non-sig­nif­i­cance’ may ex­tend even to mu­sic, and the common bond be­tween chess, mu­sic, and math­e­mat­ics may, fi­nally, be the ab­sence of lan­guage. “But th­ese are murky epis­te­mo­log­i­cal wa­ters. What needs em­pha­sis is the plain fact that a chess ge­nius is a hu­man be­ing who fo­cuses vast, lit­tle-un­der­stood men­tal gifts on an ul­ti­mately triv­ial hu­man en­ter­prise. Almost in­evitably, this fo­cus pro­duces patho­log­i­cal symp­toms of ner­vous stress and un­re­al­ity.” – George Steiner

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