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Sports and games including chess reflect life. In particular, they reflect combat and struggle.

Contemporary sports seem to have turned up the intensity a notch.

Football is a prime example. Players are bigger, stronger and faster. They spend extra hours practicing, studying tapes and building their bodies and boosting their aggressiveness in the weight room.

The best performers, college football coach Casey Goff at the Rhode Island college Salve Regina recently told me, “are generally the most aggressive ones.”

Curiously in chess, where athletic and physical attributes hardly matter, it is computers that are teaching competitors to be more aggressive and fight harder.

Benjamin Franklin, as usual, got to the heart of the matter in his “Morals of Chess:

“We learn by Chess the habit of not being discouraged by present appearances in the state of our affairs, the habit of hoping for a favorable change, and that of persevering in the search of resources.”

Computers, explains American grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura, have taught us that there is more than meets the eye in many chess positions. Today there is an enhanced realization of defensive resources, especially in the endgame.

Today’s younger players, he explains, find almost all these resources. “It’s much harder to win games. You have to be that much more creative … and that much stronger to win.”

Below is a win by Dmitry Andreikin against Veselin Topalov from the FIDE Candidates tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.

FIDE Candidates tourney