TOJ Guest Post – Belichick The Chess Master

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Today’s guest post comes courtesy of Kevin Kelly from GET Broken Record. If you are interested in contributing a guest post, send an email request with your idea to JoeC@TurnOnTheJets.com

Bill Belichick plays chess with human beings. And he’s better at this particular version of the game than any man alive.

Normal chess is man against man, mind against mind, strategy and tactical maneuvers engineered to attack while simultaneously defending.

Football is a complicated version of chess. Complicated for three reasons:

1. Only a few people realize it’s happening. Everyone else, the players included, are caught up in the excitement of the moment. 100,000 screaming fans, millions more watching at home, touchdown dances, cheerleaders, fireworks, explosions, the whole nine yards. But high atop the field watching quietly in the booth, a few select men sit quietly, studying, analyzing. They don’t see the sweat dripping off the faces of the athletes competing; they see pieces moving on a board. They watch. They look for patterns, holes, strengths and weaknesses not only in their own pieces, but also in the movements of the opponent.

2. There are multiple games being played simultaneously, and both games are using the same set of pieces. For example, the Offensive Coordinator and Defensive Coordinator both watch the game from the booth, and they play against a corresponding set of coordinators. If New York’s O.Coordinator bests New England’s defense, it means nothing if New York’s Defense gets trumped by the O.Coordinator for the Patriots. And it happens on the fly. All of this information, dozens of statistics and conditions and tangible pieces of evidence that suggest the what, where and how to succeed is then passed from the booth down to the coach.

3. This is where Belichick’s genius comes into play. He is a master at thin-slicing. He’s given an incredible amount of information and in the blink of an eye can deduce what needs to happen, to which he consistently adds resolve. Setting specific pieces into motion at certain times to evoke a reaction that butterfly effects a result two possessions or quarters or games later. It really is an incredible thing.

Rex Ryan screamed last Sunday. He screamed last Monday. On Tuesday, he probably yelled again for good measure. He talks trash. It has come to define him. But this Sunday he faces the Gridiron’s Bobby Fischer in a must-win situation. When Fischer beat the Russian Champion Boris Spassky in 1972 in a best of 7 series, Fischer didn’t show up for the first game. He intentionally took the loss. And it baffled the Russian. Without words, without doing anything at all, he planted a seed that chipped away at the best player in the world. Fischer took the series a few days later and became the first American Champion…ever.

Silence has a way of baffling the loud and outspoken. It’s a move they don’t understand, only drawing them further and further in, until it’s far too late.

If the Jets are to win on Sunday, their leaders need to shy away from the immediacy of the scream, away from the excitement of the moment and the roar of the crowd, and focus instead on the pieces on the board as Belichick has done for the last 20 years. It’s the NFL. Both sides have muscle, strength, and conditioning, top tier talent. All of that means nothing if you lose your mental, as reason walks out when emotion walks in. This is where New York needs to improve. And this is exactly what New England will look to exploit. Football is chess with living pieces. And in the immortal words of Bobby Fischer: Chess is war over the board. The object is to crush the opponent’s mind.

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