It was better not to know

What have we learnt from Andrew McGettigan’s reconstruction (in RP 161) of the photographedSvendborg chess match? In a nutshell, that Brecht played bad moves and Benjaminfailed to take advantage. For those of us who have long cherished the idea of these two playingmatches of the highest standard to match their contributions outside the chess board, the twelvemoves shown to us in Radical Philosophy are a great disappointment.

McGettigan looks on the bright side, concluding that Benjamin and Brecht show from theirplay that they are not mere ‘wood-pushers’. Another point of comparison might be a favouredterm of chess columnists – ‘the average club player’. This figure of gentle condescension isgenerally invoked as a way of assessing the relative difficulty of any given chess problem.If it is within the grasp of the ‘average club player’, then it is fairly straightforward. Basedon what McGettigan has provided for us (and it is hard to see, given the two photographedpositions, any other mo

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