Vladimir Putin Doesn’t Play Chess

‘. . . Hillary Clinton asserted that Donald Trump is “playing checkers and Putin is playing three-dimensional chess”. . .

In fact, there is no evidence that Putin plays chess, and in any case, it is not his sort of game. Chess is a contest of inflexible rules, transparency and of an intellectual competition where the options are strictly  constrained. Everyone starts with the same pieces, and everyone knows what a pawn can do and when it’s their turn to move. Putin doesn’t want to limit his options like that. He does know judo, however. A black belt, he has been honing his skills since starting as a teenager, and his approach to statecraft seems to reflect this. A judoka may well have prepared for a rival’s usual moves and worked out countermoves in advance, but much of the art is in using the opponent’s strength against him to seize the moment when it appears. In this respect, in geopolitics as in judo, Putin is an opportunist. He has a sense of what constitutes a win, but no predetermined path towards it. He relies on quickly seizing any advantage he sees, rather than on a careful strategy.’

Mark Galeotti, ‘Putin is a Judoka, Not a Chess Player’
We Need to Talk about Putin: How the West Gets Him Wrong (London: Ebury Press, 2019), pp.13-15

See also

Bad Men

Chess and Politics

We Need to Talk about Garry

Americans Prefer Poker

A Famous Critic Writes

1 Comment

  1. Beat Zueger says:

    29 March 2019
    First official invoice
    Dear Bachar
    A chess Pope career in Switzerland is not cheap. Can you send the official invoice (first tranche) to Arkadi Dworkowitsch. Don’t forget to add the paying-in slip with the invoice amount (10’000’000 Euros). Afterwards Arkadi Dworkowitsch can transfer money on our Fide-Bank-Account at Caixabank. Many thanks in advance.

    Best wishes
    Beat Zueger

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