Per se ordered to an end

The point of playing chess is to checkmate one’s opponent, i.e. playing chess as a per se and intrinsic order to checkmating. Players, however, can have lots of different relations to that end.

1.) Playing while not thinking about checkmating. One could be distracted, acting according to rote moves, blindly following directions, or even executing a program.

2.) Playing while knowing one has no chance of checkmating. One can set the skill level of a chess opponent on a computer, and beyond a very low level I would be astonished to win. Nevertheless, there are all sorts of reasons for playing a game one knows he can’t win.

3.) Playing while purposely trying to lose.  Here one is trying to throw the game. While there can be all sorts of motives for throwing games, this sort of activity is fundamentally dishonest in a way that (1) and (2) are not, since one is merely appearing to engage in chess while not actually doing so. Even if purposefully losing gives the opponent some good (like letting your kid win at arm wrestling) it is a good that is spoiled for being seen for what it is – a kid who knew you let him win wouldn’t want the victory on that condition. In fact, he would rightly see it as no victory at all.

Note that (2) and (3) share in common that one knows he can’t win the game, or that he would be astonished to win it.

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