"Never confuse movement with action."
Progress. Soapy, soapy progress.
Having spent all of Friday afternoon being herded into a valley of unhappiness in the name of Marxian theory, and having watched Mehdi Hasan veritably implode this weekend, I'm feeling fighty. I'm also in a dangerously rational state of self-awareness and, all right, it probably wasn't a wonderful idea to get up at 6:30am for Sunday's predictably dull Korean Grand Prix.
In short, I'm knackered.
Still, let's have a cheery discussion on the nature of progress within chess, shall we?
Black's just played 7...b5, winning a piece for two pawns.
And now, after 20. c5, the material balance is the same. But which player has made progress? Has either?
Guaranteed victory or guaranteed defeat?
Objectively, given they've hoovered the queens off and white's kingside isn't coming to help its centralised friends any time soon, black's improved their position. But what's the point of that if they're uneasy? After the opening disaster, white has very little to lose and might as well go for it, which they have done.
Richard James' advice to "look, not think" applies here. Because, aaah! the pawns and aaah! my king and aaah! I've been completely winning since the opening and if I don't win this everyone will laugh at me and I'll probably lose all my confidence and aaah! my confidence is waning already and aaah! aaah! aaah! DRAMA!
I think a state of progression exists largely in the mind. In general life terms, if I can't look back at myself from 12 months ago and wonder what on earth that person stood for, I know I'm going nowhere. This is unhelpful in chess because it's results-oriented and, however much we protest otherwise, the journey matters little to the outcome. If we can find the crudest possible way of reaching a desired outcome, we will.
"But how do I make progress?" should be a question reserved for quiet contemplation on the bus. Within a chess game, in precarious positions such as the above, I prefer this:
"How do I win?"