Chess has a certain amount of pieces, as does every other game that I can think of. If you put too many pieces on the board it doesn’t look right and you can’t play. Having too many pawns makes moving around the board more difficult and having two queens on one side would be a most cruel advantage. Games are set up so that each person has an equal chance to win, so long as they have the skills. We don’t put more pieces on the board just because we want to. We don’t take them off just because it makes the space look prettier. We have to earn each piece that we take. The winning moves are precise and exacting. The right amount of pieces is required to pull off any kind of upset or comeback. These are just givens.
And yet, I can never seem to keep track of all of them. I sacrifice valuable pieces just so I can see the board better. I trade them because it makes sense at the time and I think it is moving me ahead, but later I regret it. I can’t do 15 possible moves in my head because I don’t know what the other person is going to do with their pieces. I can’t keep track of the relationships and the distance between the pieces. They all seem to jumble together into these fits of excitement that lead to their own destruction, without strategy of coherence. I am not orchestrating a win so much as I am hoping that my positioning and outward confidence is somehow hiding my complete lack of experience or research.
I am lining my pieces up for the game that will ultimately decide what my future looks like. They all look good right now, and I’m hoping it holds. I am reading the instructions for the hundredth time, but with each conversation I have about the way this game is supposed to be played, I notice that I need specific techniques and to think through every move before I make it. Others can see the board too, and I am looking to them for advice. It is my responsibility to set it up, but I feel like each move is being crowd sourced.
That is how I am going to keep track of all these pieces. That is how I am going to make sure that I am playing the right ones at the right time. I won’t bring my queen out too early, because she is one piece that I will never sacrifice. I have to send out my pawns as scouts to see just what is out there. I will castle at the right time, moving myself away from danger. I will strike and set up gambits that are too enticing not to take advantage of. And my faceless opponent will have little choice but to confront all of the pieces that I have set up. They will have to engage my contributions and they will have to give something up in order to get access to anything else I have to offer.
In short: I will win.
I will win because I have all of my pieces in place. I will win because of everyone giving me resources and knowledge and knowhow. And, I will win because there is no alternative for me. It can’t shirk away and I can’t come back later. The game is happening now, and the game clock has started.