Hangin puts the question to the bishop


         Putting the question to the bishop. IĎve heard this expressed by GMs during many a Chess Fm broadcast. It comes out whenever a pawn is pushed on a3, h3, a6, or h6 and it attacks the opposing bishop. Iíve always wondered, what question was actually put to the bishop? The ChessFmers never tell you what the question is that was put to the bishop. Itís a big secret.  Iím a pretty good chess player.  I think that if I knew what the actual question was, it would give me the missing piece of the chess puzzle. It's the missing link that evades my true understanding of this game.  I feel the question is the key to my chess mastery.  

    When I did an occasional broadcast for Chess FM. I was always afraid to say ďTony, White puts the question to the bishop.Ē  I just felt I could not say it with the conviction of a titled player. I was always afraid that if I did, then some kibitzer would ask me ďWell Hangin, what question did white put to the bishop?Ē I wouldnít know the answer.  This got me thinking. I did a LEKO, thatís a deep think for all of you who did not watch Kramnik vs. Leko.  I was wondering for each piece what questions I should ask them, when I put the question to them. I think all good chess players need to do home analysis. Sometimes you got to bust out the board and pieces and do some analysis all by yourself. You donít always have access to titled players. Plus chess mastery begins with you. If you want to improve you must work on your own sometimes. So I finished my analysis on this subject and came up with questions for all the pieces. So the next time I put the question to a piece. I know what to ask. Itís just like knowing opening theory. 
      I thought about putting the question to a knight, or a horse. I thought you could talk to animals. People talk to their dogs and cats all the time. So I would ask the knight, do you need any hay or water? Can I clean your stable? Do you need to be brushed? Howís your saddle? You can tell what an animal needs. 

     Now itís not that easy for a rook or a castle. It gets a little tricky.  Itís a building and I know it canít communicate with me. So I thought, well, hey, lets walk up to it and knock on the door.  You have to talk to the people inside the castle. You can ask them if the establishment is open?  Is it a bed and breakfast place?  Is there room at the inn?  Do you have termites? You could simply say you're lost and ask for directions. Those are the kind of questions you need to put to the castle. 

    Now when it comes to royalty, itís really tricky. You must be careful putting the question to the queen. First of all you must be very respectful.  You know who her husband is. Plus she is the strongest piece on the board.  Iíd probably get tongue-tied and turn red. I would want to be very helpful. But if I did get a question out, I would ask her majesty if I could be of service to her. Naturally I would kneel and bow my head when the question was asked. I think this is the best way to treat the lady.

    Now it gets very dangerous when you put the question to the King, if you dare to.  I personally would be afraid to put the question to the king. Like the queen, we are talking about royalty. You never know how he would react to the question. Who knows, the king might get upset and chop your head off. Look what happened to King Henryís wives.  So with kings itís probably better not to ask a question. I think itís better to be seen and not heard. But if you have to put the question to the king, it better be a good one. Donít ask me. 

     Now it gets easy. You know, Iím 1800 ICC rated. When it comes to pawns, I am not asking a pawn anything. In fact, I'm telling a pawn where to go!! You know like ďscram kid.Ē  Iím not taking any crap from a pawn. Man, Iím rated 1800 for crying out loud. But just be careful with those passed pawns on the 6th or 7th rank. That's when you start treating them with respect. God forbid you disrespected a pawn and it makes it to the 8th rank. Pawns are like elephants. They have long memories.  You need to be careful sometimes. 
     So we are back to where this all started. What question to put to the bishop?  Players are always putting the question to the bishop. In fact bishops probably get the most questions.  Iíve given this one a deep LEKO.  We are talking about a man of the cloth, so I would seek solace in his wisdom.  In the past when I played and put the question to the bishop, I always thought the bishop knew I was bluffing.  I always thought the bishop never respected me. Maybe this is why many of my attacks failed. I never actually sought out his advice. Iíve given it plenty of thought now.  I would tell him about my sins and ask for his forgiveness. In a kind of confession, I would seek out his spiritual guidance. 

    Those are my questions to the pieces. I am wondering if the questions differ based on ratings? Do masters ask one question and IMs ask another? Does the GM have yet another set of questions? What questions do Kramnik and Leko ask? How about Vishy Anand or Garry Kasparov? What questions do the silicon monsters like Fritz and Deep Junior ask? I would love to know their questions, but thatís another piece for another time.