September 15, 2017

What Kind of a Chess Superhero Are You?

By International Master Vitaly Neimer

Why do we like superheroes so much even when we know they aren’t real? For the same reasons we like chess – the story, the struggle, and the never-ending hope. Every one of us has always dreamed of becoming a superhero, to have superpowers and fight against evil. But how can you experience that when there is no such way? On the chessboard.

The World Chess Hall of Fame in Saint Louis is featuring POW! Capturing Superheros, Chess & Comics, a special exhibition about chess and comics. Chess has appeared in more comics than one would have thought. Featured in the most famous tales of Superman, Batman, and Spiderman, it makes sense to include chess as a metaphor of a struggle between two forces. But superheroes and chess serve a higher purpose: exploring ourselves.

IM Vitaly Neimer at the World Chess Hall of Fame

It is always interesting to see how people pick their superpowers. Some choose the ability to sense danger, some like to move fast, and some would prefer the gift of healing. Similarly in the chess world, players explore themselves to find their strengths and weaknesses. Some can sense their opponent's trap; some prefer to play quick time controls because they are quick thinkers; and some have the stamina to save lost positions.

As for myself, I would choose to be Professor X. There is nothing more frustrating than preparing for your opponent for days, and in the end, he plays a different variation. As a result, I would use my ability to manipulate his mind and make him step into my preparation.

So, what superhero are you?