"He who wishes to fight must first count the cost”
Since chess costs money to play competitively in rated events, I thought I’d attempt this chapter line by line and make sense in the chess sense.
1. In the operations of war, where there are in the field a thousand swift chariots, as many heavy chariots, and a hundred thousand mail-clad soldiers, with provisions enough to carry them a thousand LI, the expenditure at home and at the front, including entertainment of guests, small items such as glue and paint, and sums spent on chariots and armor, will reach the total of a thousand ounces of silver per day. Such is the cost of raising an army of 100,000 men.
IN Chess, costs add up. In the US, there are national dues ( USCF annual membership), Local dues ( State affiliate dues) entry fee of the event. Says this is your first event of the year and all membership fees are due and you are going to local weekend warrior and not spending any nights in a hotel, this could run at least $100, just to get you through the door. If you are spending the night at the hotel and use the “chess rate” that the organizer lobbied for, you can expect to add at least $90/night. Depending on how well you can do meal planning and such, hoping for a continental breakfast as part of the plan, you can easily rack up at least $30 or more a day in food/beverage costs. Let’s not forget travel costs of merely driving to place that might consume ½ a tank of gas.
So in this scenario, a weekend event, in an adjacent state where you stay at the hotel for two nights, for a chance at a moderate prize fund of about $500 you can expect to spend about $375 to get you to that first event. If you are like me, I have to negotiate with my wife why I want to spend $375 on a self-indulgent weekend of sitting in a closed room with a bunch of other likeminded chess nuts.
2. When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men's weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be damped. If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength.3. Again, if the campaign is protracted, the resources of the State will not be equal to the strain.
If all your games go to the time limit, and you only have ½ hour to recoup between rounds, you might be better off requesting a bye for the evening round. Otherwise it may impact your next campaign in round 3 on a Saturday evening.
4. Now, when your weapons are dulled, your ardor damped, your strength exhausted and your treasure spent, other chieftains will spring up to take advantage of your extremity. Then no man, however wise, will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue.
I read this and say to myself, Know when to quite. If after 3 rounds you are still losing in a 5 round event. Cut your loses and regroup and recoup. How many times have I rolled in on Sunday morning round thinking, “This time will be different.” This is tough for me, as I have a hard time letting go and have crashed and burned on several occasions whether it’s the World Open or the Mass Open. Been there done that, You’d think I’d know better. Let’s see if I can follow this ancient advice.
5. Thus, though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays.
I read this and think, “How prepared am I for this tournament?” I can go in unprepared and wonder why I am not playing to my expected skills. On the other hand, if I am coming back from a long hiatus, with some preparation, knowing my main goal is for OTB experience, then this is worth the campaign.
6. There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.7. It is only one who is thoroughly acquainted with the evils of war that can thoroughly understand the profitable way of carrying it on.8. The skillful soldier does not raise a second levy, neither are his supply-wagons loaded more than twice.
My experience says this about these quote: If I want to remain married, I must find a balance of attending tournaments and spending time with family and doing what the wife would like. In other words, as much as I would like to go to tournaments every weekend, I like being married too. It’s all about balance.
9. Bring war material with you from home, but forage on the enemy. Thus the army will have food enough for its needs.
I wonder if it would be appropriate to wager loser pays for dinner when you shake hands and start the game? I tend to extend this to asking my opponent to go over the game so I can learn what he’s learned. I figure if I am paying for a weekend of chess, I can also benefit as each opponent is a potential teacher offering different perspectives.
10. Poverty of the State exchequer causes an army to be maintained by contributions from a distance. Contributing to maintain an army at a distance causes the people to be impoverished.
When away at a tournament, it’s important to call home and stay connected to remind my loved ones I have not forgotten them. The impoverishment of my spouse is my lack of attention ( and the physical costs to attend).
11. On the other hand, the proximity of an army causes prices to go up; and high prices cause the people's substance to be drained away.12. When their substance is drained away, the peasantry will be afflicted by heavy exactions.13, 14. With this loss of substance and exhaustion of strength, the homes of the people will be stripped bare, and three-tenths of their income will be dissipated; while government expenses for broken chariots, worn-out horses, breast-plates and helmets, bows and arrows, spears and shields, protective mantles, draught-oxen and heavy wagons, will amount to four-tenths of its total revenue.
11 through 14 underscores the costs of attending tournaments far away. I like how costs are itemized in fractions for the people and the “government”. It’s all relative to household income, where the event is located, how much start up costs to attend and if you can afford it even if you don’t stand a chance at the prize fund. You don’t go to Vegas thinking it’s a bank transaction. It’s “entertainment” and can you afford it?
15. Hence a wise general makes a point of foraging on the enemy. One cartload of the enemy's provisions is equivalent to twenty of one's own.16. Now in order to kill the enemy, our men must be roused to anger; that there may be advantage from defeating the enemy, they must have their rewards.17. Therefore in chariot fighting, when ten or more chariots have been taken, those should be rewarded who took the first. Our own flags should be substituted for those of the enemy, and the chariots mingled and used in conjunction with ours. The captured soldiers should be kindly treated and kept.18. This is called, using the conquered foe to augment one's own strength.19. In war, then, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns.
The next few versus remind me of the motivations of attending a large tournament. For instance, the draw of the World open are those that offer attractive class prizes that far outweigh the cost-benefit analysis of entering the event. Yes, the prize entry is more creating a higher risk, but you can stand a chance of breaking even if you finish with even a decent score. You’d better get your game on and be well prepared. But don’t lose sight of picking up rating points and merely gaining better OTB experience. IF you lose, turn it around and make sure it’s a lesson and ask from your opponent the time to review at least parts of the game where they saw something you didn’t. You can still gain something, knowledge for the next battle.
20. Thus it may be known that the leader of armies is the arbiter of the people's fate, the man on whom it depends whether the nation shall be in peace or in peril.
If you are like me and married find a balance in your desire to play in chess tournaments otherwise be prepared to deal with the perils of home life. If you are not committed in a relationship and live for chess, let me know how that’s working for you.