Sunday, October 25, 2015

Our Game Was Last Night

Two of the ushers are runners, one younger, one much younger than me. Making conversation, I asked the younger if he had been running lately, and the older remarked that today was the day of this year's Marine Corps Marathon. I asked whether the numbers of marathon runners had fallen off since the 1980s. He thought that the number had not, but that the distribution of times had shifted. A time that I, as a decent recreational runner, might have run in 1981 would be much closer to the front now. I remembered a story in Herbert Simon's memoirs, Models of My Life, and managed to recount it more or less accurately:
One evening I played [Arpad] Elo and lost as usual, playing White in the Giuco Piano. When I got home, I analyzed the game and found that I could have beaten him easily if I had made the correct aggressive move with my Bishop--on the seventh move, I believe. The next evening I pointed this out to him. "Oh," he said, "but our game was last night."

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