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  • Javier Romano

Timeless Dance of Beauty

-How long can a Quaternity Chess game last?

-As long as you wish.

Four of us -based in different countries- started this game the 19th of November, last year; each of us at home with our own chessboard, using only an online "Excel" board to communicate the moves, and WhatsApp, for messages.

The condition was to make at least one move per day each.

It’s now almost 5 months of play and this image shows how it looks like right now.

It’s been so far a very interesting experience indeed. I would point out a few observations made:

-The most obvious one is that there is no rush to decide to make a move. This factor takes away the stress, whether you are a slow or a fast thinker, it’s the same.

-You can consider many possibilities over the whole chessboard, looking at the other three ‘armies’ and their chances at any given time.

-The situation is like the time has been frozen. Complete stillness, and yet, a potential displacement of any piece, in many directions.

-There’s no anxiety, no sensation of threat. Even if you can see the potential hazard approaching your way, it hasn’t happened YET.

-There is beauty at any stage of the game. Everything follows a certain course, and produces a certain pattern, the combinations are endless.

-If you seat in the position of the other three players, one at a time, and you imagine you are them, something ‘strange’ happens in your mind: suddenly you ARE the other player and you feel that this is your armie, and you develop a strategy according with the positioning of your -their- pieces.

-When you go back to your own seat, somehow you have a better picture of what the others might want to do, this is commonly known as ‘putting yourself in other people’s shoes’, but here it takes a more graphic shape.

-The competitive factor tends to get dissolved into a larger picture. Now you are not set about defeating others, you are part of a sort of ‘cosmic’ dance, where anything you do affects the others and vice versa. The end result doesn’t matter that much anymore, the ‘journey’ becomes the transcendent part of the game.

-There’s a geometric and mathematic flow in the movements. This factor is easily lost when there is a rush against time. It’s like traveling by car at 90 miles p/h and suddenly getting out of the car and walking through the fields, appreciating the landscape.

-Something difficult to achieve when playing with a timer is ‘peripheral view’, although this tends to get better with practise, it can never be in much detail, it’s more like a falcon’s view. Many important things are missed.

What Arif Shah calls -in his brilliant intro to Qchess Rules- the ‘implied intention’ behind a move gets a more clear prospective when the board ‘freezes’. The ‘hiding in plain sight’ becomes more evident when the time factor is not pressing.

Obviously, if someone is not conditioned by the time factor, by the prison of the 5 senses, another dimension/s opens up, where contemplation replaces the frantic flow of events through time.

I've only had a transitory glimpse of this 'liberation' of the time tyranny many years ago, while playing tennis with a friend. What's commonly called 'being in the zone', it so happened that suddenly I perceived that the whole game went into a kind of 'spooky' slow motion mode, with no action taken from my side, and I've started to enjoy the new condition as the ball seemed to move towards me at such a pace that I had enough time to position myself in the right place, adopt the right body frame, visualise where I wanted to place the ball on the other side -smoke a cigarette, haha, no- and do exactly as planned. So my opponent, who seemed to be still under the rule of the three dimensional time-space frame, had no chance to get a ball.

As I was feeling still quite fresh, I felt like asking: "Hey, another one?", but it wasn't the right time for jokes, so we stopped there. The next question that crossed my mind was, obviously: "how can I get this state into a permanent one?" The benefits of living -at will- outside the time frame would make many things much easier, let alone sports. One would have extra time to ponder and consider all the different implications involved in any situation, and therefore make more accurate moves and decisions, because the main focus of our conscious attention would be on the extra-sensorial events that complete any given human situation, and by accessing that realm everything would make complete sense.

A clear link to another train of reflexions and... perceptions.

J. Romano

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