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5GW Chess

Originally published 6/18/08 at Dreaming 5GW.

This is from a comment I left over at Phatic Communion in a conversation that had to do with Centers of Gravity (CoG).

“It seems to me that 5GW is less about looking for one particular CoG (be it stregth or weakness) but about engaging the target on as many different chessboards as possible and attacking the CoG that gains you the most advantage on each board.”

The idea of multiple chessboards reminded me of something else that I saw about a year ago on a television program starring mentalist / illusionist / magician Derren Brown and marked for possible 5GW exploration. (Actually Derren Brown could be the subject of a whole series of 5GW posts, something I may have to further explore. Stage Magic and Illusion as 5GW is one of my original topics of exploration.) The lesson to be gained from this particular situation isn’t exactly the one I was going for in the comment at PC, but there is a 5GW lesson there.

So what is the lesson? I’ll leave that to the readers to put in the comments. I know what I see, maybe somebody else will see something even deeper.

Red Herrings Note: Comment by Arherring

I don’t know if I’m jumping the gun but I’m going to put in the ‘lesson’ as I see it now. Sorry if I didn’t give enough opportunity for readers to weigh in.

I think Curtis is thinking along the same lines as I am but I’m looking at it from a slightly different point of view.

To me there was only one person in this who was being manipulated, and Brown is able to do this because he is thinking on all three levels of conflict and his opponents (or targets) are not or are actively restricted from doing so.

Tactical: This is level of each of the individual games. At the tactical level Brown is only playing one game. The rest of his opponents are playing each other.

“In truth, they really were playing and choosing their own moves, based upon their own observation of the board/pieces and according to their own understanding of the game.”

Indeed, they are just doing what they naturally do and by proxying them he is guaranteed to win half and lose half of the games. His opponents, by design, may only work on this level. Even if one or more of his opponents suspects Brown is playing them against each other the asymmetric number of opponents, the statement that he has been studying them individually, and that he feels utterly prepared, should be enough to keep them from saying anything at least until the event is over. Additionally, they all came to play chess, so they are already thinking of the event in that context.

Operational: Brown has restricted/redirected the Observation of his targets so that they cannot operate at his level except to observe when each game ends and who is the winner of the game. However, there is only one player that Brown needs to notice this.

Strategic: While I am not sure if Brown’s target was actually the last game to finish or not (possibly it was editing) the positioning of Robert Chan, the only opponent Brown was actually playing, at table 9 meant that it is almost a certainty that Chan will see Brown appear to beat one or more Grandmaster level players before their own game finishes. If it was the last game to finish then Chan saw Brown walk into a room full of greats and beat half of them at the same time (even though he really didn’t). This is the target and the level of Brown’s manipulation. The entire event is staged to convince Robert Chan that Brown is able to play on the level of a Grandmaster and that he is standing in a room full of giants with cameras watching. This engineered context contains the implied meme that as a chess player Chan has no real chance of beating Brown.

So he doesn’t.


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