Is There a Goddess of Chess?

In a short answer, yes.

The game which has been described as a game of skill, where players rely on memory, tactics, long winded strategies, good moves, and healthy diet (it helps – believe me), leaving nothing to chance or clairvoyance, does allow, and sometimes even encourage, supernatural intervention. (I have seen players pray before a game.)

Before we start, let me introduce you to Caïssa, the goddess of chess, who showers her favors on prodigies and like Nike (the goddess of victory), occasionally smiles on lower rated.

No one has ever seen Caïssa, but she is around, esp. when chess is being played. Here is one interpretation, but she can also be found on the chessboard itself.

Now it is possible for both players to error in a game. And yet one player still emerges with a win. The goddess always wants to reward the player who willing to take a chance.

Thematic Tournament – Practice The French (U1900) – Round 2, 2020/1
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.exd5 exd5 (A cross between the Tarrasch and the Exchange variations of the French. It gives White a small advantage and is usually played when one is content with a draw.) 5.Bd3 Bd6 6.Ne2 O-O 7.O-O Re8 8.c4 c6 9.Re1 Bxh2+?! (I was hoping for a quick win here with the classical bishop sac on the kingside. However, this move is an error as White has some very beneficial knights to keep his king safe.) 10.Kxh2 Ng4+ 11.Kg3!

[And Black is facing the prospect of a quick loss after a bad sacrifice and a pair of equally bad hallucinations. Obviously moving back to g1 leads to an early mate. But this is the illusion. White wins after 11.Kg1 Qh4 12.Nf3 Qxf2+ 13.Kg1, with the idea of Rf1. I had considered 11.Kg3 and knew it was usually a bad king move as it leads directly to a fun king hunt for the attacking player. I didn’t consider the move was worth studying. But I should have! 11…Qd6+ leads to either 12.f4 Re3+ 13.Kh4 Qh6#, or the better 12.Nf4! Rxe1 (else 13.Rxe8+) 13.Qxe1g5 14.Qe8+ Kg7 and it is White who wins after 15.Nb3.] 11…Qg5 (Now the values of 12.f4 and 12.Nf4 switch places. 12.Nf4 is not good because 12…Ne3+ 13.Kf3 Bg4+ 14.Kg3 Bxd1+ 15.Kh2 Qxf4+ 16.g3 Qxf2+. But 12.f4 Re3+ 13.Nf3 wins!) 12.Qb3?? (White, after facing the threats, both real and illusionary, unbelievably blunders, and allows Black to finish the game with ease.) 12…Ne3+ -+ 13.Kf3 Qg4mate 0-1

Gods and goddesses have always encouraged not just good behavior, but also good health.

In the following game, my inebriated opponent came to the board red-eyed and reeking of alcohol. It didn’t help him, but it helped in keeping me awake as I find alcohol disagreeable in smell, in taste and by ingestion. Did I mention this was a night game?

Gomez Baillo-Escalante
US Open
Los Angeles, CA 1991
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 O-O 8.c3 d5 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.d4 exd4 11.Nxd4 Nxd4 12.cxd4 Be6 13.Nc3 c6 14.Qh5?! (Does White actually believe his premature queen sortie is going to lead to a quick mate? Maybe the alcohol is taking it’s toll as my opponent is playing about 200 pints below his rating. I have a reasonable excuse for my weaker moves; I am 200 points below my opponent’s rating. But I’m sober and that is an advantage in chess.) 14…Qd7!? (Black could play 14…Nf6, but I like my knight just where it is!)  15.Nxd5 (It stands to reason that if I like my knight just where it is, then my opponent does not like my knight where it is. Black has a slight disadvantage.) 15…cxd5 16.Bc2 g6 17.Qe5?! (17.Qe2 was better.) 17…Bd6 (With this simple move, Black now gains a slight advantage.) 18.Qg5 Be7 19.Qh6 (White is fixated on a kingside mating strategy. Tunnel vision helps see deep in a position. But this is not the only part of the board. Other ideas and strategies are emerging.) 19…Bf6 20.Bg5 Bg7 21.Qh4 Bf5 22.Rac1 Rac8 23.Bxf5 Rxc1 24.Rxc1 Qxf5 25.g4 Qe4 26.Be3 Bxd4 27.Bh6 Re8 28.Bg5 Bxb2 29.Qh6 Bxc1 (Black misses 29.Qxg4+! -+. But he finds it the next move.) 30.Bxc1 Qxg4+ 31.Kf1 Qe2+ 0-1