In golf, all of the mental energy is focused on the shot you are making right now. The intellectual challenge comes from shaking off the last (bad) shot/hole and not worrying about future challenges. Only the current shot matters; 100% tactics. Get as close to the hole as possible. The best players have a reproducible repertoire of moves for any given context but even those are unrelated to anything other than the current situation. And even the best can mess up, for example 10 strokes on a par 3, just (much) less frequently than the average duffer.
In chess, on the other hand, all of the mental energy is focused on strategy. The best players are thinking 6 or 8 moves ahead. Setting up traps and future feints. Laying defense works. The current move matters but only in the context of a much richer opening, middle game or end game. It is a game of deep research and deep thought (and Deep Blue; sorry I couldn't resist) though in most matches the time of thought is constrained and both plans and decisions must be made under pressure.
This week, while American leadership golfs, we may have had a peek at international chess:
1) On 11/16: Trump Sought Options for Attacking Iran
2) On 11/26: IDF on high alert over possible US strike
3) On 11/27: Iran’s Top Nuclear Scientist Killed in Attack
Because the US National Security Infrastructure shields both national security and national embarrassment, we may never know the truth. Was Trump's suggestion of an attack on Iran just another one of many random golf policy swings by an incompetent President? Or was he influenced in a childlike fashion by Israel or the gallivanting of the much more sly Secretary of State Pompeo through the Middle East. Regardless, the context was set.
Israel probably already had contingencies for lame duck confusion during an incompetent US administration plus/minus popular right wing actions by an indicted prime minister. There is probably a book of chess middle games that includes those very scenarios. Intentionally or inadvertently, therefore, the board is set for Israel to put it's military on alert (something that cannot be done completely without notice) should it wish to take action. Israel even announced it, presumably for the golfers. The country where, "no comment is a comment."
And, then Knight takes nuclear weapons maker. Is there a Nuclear Deal to which Biden can return?
Or, do we think that Pompeo-Kushner-Trump were smart enough to be in on it? That the jet setting about the middle east under cover of 'breakthrough' relations were part of a mis-en-place? The price of a Saudi meeting? The coincident story of "Jordan scrambles to affirm its custodianship of al-Aqsa mosque" just another red herring, a feint? Do I think our administration capable of this? No. Do I think them capable of lying about it either way? Absolutely. Would I trust an administration response? Absolutely not.
The game continues, the wheel turns. An incompetent, inexperienced, almost childlike, lame duck administration. A Senate ("greatest deliberative body in the World"; ROTFL) and the House, divided, both completely dissociated from each other and their oversight responsibilities. A presidency in the midst of unilateral post-election chaos and unprecedented division of the nation. All of them shielded by our National Security Infrastructure. Dangerous? Uh, yeah.
So, do I relax a bit seeing the cool, calm, confidence of the incoming batch of experienced Cabinet members? A bit. I do, however, want to look into their eyes and ask, "Do you play chess?"