1989: The Year of Anger and Remembering

  • Anthony D’Agostino


Rudolf Spielmann begins his classic The Art of Sacrifice in Chess by explaining the difference between a sham sacrifice and a real sacrifice. Sacrifice, he says, is an immensely attractive option from the aesthetic viewpoint, in which one gives up some of one’s pieces in order to open up chances for a more promising attack. ‘A hallowed heroic concept!’ says Spielmann, ‘Advancing in a chivalrous mood, the individual immolates himself for a noble idea.’1 Many seeming sacrifices, however, do not really deserve the name, for the calculating player chooses them only after looking deeply enough into the position to see that the material yielded will be regained subsequently, and usually with interest. Far different from this sham offering is the sacrifice that is made when one cannot see one’s way to a sure advantage in the future. Real sacrifices have an element of risk. The likelihood of success is not calculated on the basis of the inherent facts of the situation, but involves instead a wager on the psychological effect of the act that itself creates a new position. One advances despite the inability to see over the horizon, assuming, or perhaps just hoping, that the boldness of the move will itself shape fresh opportunities. The attractions of the idea are obvious. ‘The glowing power of the sacrifice is irresistible’, Spielmann tells us, because ‘enthusiasm for sacrifice lies in man’s nature.’


Foreign Policy Central Committee Khmer Rouge Soviet Bloc Soviet Leadership 
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  1. 63.
    G. W. F. Hegel, Philosophy of Right, T. M. Knox trans. (London, Oxford and New York, 1967), 267.Google Scholar

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© Anthony D’Agostino 1998

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  • Anthony D’Agostino

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