What If We Played Chess the Way People Argue?

Throughout the years, I have noticed a pattern that occurs when arguing with various people on the internet – rather than focus and deal with the actual argument I am making, they are arguing against a point that they anticipate I will make later down the line. Rather than address the question I am asking, they address the answer they think I am trying to elicit.  To argue and respond like this, I assume they think they are playing mental chess, relying on their clever foresight to anticipate my next move.  But more often than not, they are simply relying on their own stereotypes. So what would it be like to play real chess with someone like that?

Mike moves his bishop.

Opponent thinks: “Aha, I’ve seen this move before! I know what he is up to.”

Opponent moves his rook.

Mike moves his knight.

Opponent speaks: What are you doing?

Mike: Playing chess?

Opponent: I know that. But you are not supposed to move your knight. You are supposed to move the queen!

Mike: I am?

Opponent: Yes, I’ve seen this move before. I’ve played with lots of people like you before and you all move the queen.

Mike: But I don’t want to move the queen. I want to move the knight.

Opponent: Okay, now you are lying.

Mike: Huh?

Opponent: You know you want to move your queen, but won’t admit it!

Mike: No, I want to move the knight.

Opponent: Liar. I told you, I’ve played with lots of people like you before and you ALL move the queen.

Mike: But why do you think I am like those other people?

Opponent: That was a cheap shot! Why don’t you just play the game instead of psychoanalyzing me?

Mike: Look, perhaps we shouldn’t play anymore.

Opponent: Why? Are you afraid you’ll lose? Your type always does, you know?

Mike: No, because it looks like you can play this game by yourself.

Gets up and walks away

Opponent: Aha! Once you figured out that I knew you wanted to move the queen, and was ready for that move, you walk away. See ya later. Loser.

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4 responses to “What If We Played Chess the Way People Argue?

  1. Nullasalus

    At the risk of psychoanalyzing, I sometimes think it isn’t just that they think they know what move you want to make, but that they want you to make that move. It’s a mix of anticipation and hope.

  2. “But more often than not, they are simply relying on their own stereotypes.”

    and

    “I sometimes think it isn’t just that they think they know what move you want to make, but that they want you to make that move. “It’s a mix of anticipation and hope.”

    I think both of these things are true. Many of us are competitive. We all want to end the fight, and end the fight the way we see the world. But we are not able or willing to see the full extent of our own limitations nor always honest enough to allow the full discussion to proceed seemingly unending.

  3. I just want the other side to admit they lost and buy the first round of beer.

  4. Brilliant. Spot on.

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