A Nice Game of Chess (II)

[God and the devil are playing chess.] But the chess they play is not the little ingenious game that originated in India; it is an altogether different scale. The Ruler of the Universe creates the board, the pieces and the rules; he makes all the moves; he may make as many moves as he likes whenever he likes; his antagonist however, is permitted to introduce a slight inexplicable inaccuracy into each move, which necessitates further moves in correction. The Creator determines and conceals the aim of the game, and it is never clear whether the purpose of the adversary is to defeat or assist him in his unfathomable project. Apparently the adversary cannot win, but also he cannot lose so long as he can keep the game going. But he is concerned, it would seem, in preventing the development of any reasoned scheme in the game.

H. G. Wells. The Undying Fire.


A Nice Game of Chess (I)

Fancy what a game of chess would be if all the chessmen had passions and intellects, more or less small and cunning; if you were not only uncertain about your own; if your Knight could shuffle himself on to a new square on the sly; if your Bishop, in disgust at your Castling, could wheedle your Pawns out of their places; and if your Pawns, hating you because they are Pawns, could make away from their appointed posts that you might get checkmate on a sudden. You might be the longest-headed of deductive reasoners, and yet you might be beaten by your own Pawns. You would be especially likely to be beaten, if you depended arrogantly on your mathematical imagination, and regarded your passionate pieces with contempt.

Yet this imaginary chess is easy compared with a game a man has to play against is fellow-men with other fellow-men for his instruments . . .

George Eliot. Felix Holt.