Donald Trump must really suck at chess

I’ve always been a loser when it comes to chess. That thing of thinking several moves ahead, factoring in the plans and responses of the other player, all the psychological back-and-forthing…I guess it means in several important ways I’m just not at that intelligent. Someone else who’s not very clever is Clown-in-Chief Donald Trump, of whom someone, in a must-read article that contains no hyperbole or exaggeration whatsoever, just wrote: 

(There’s) a fundamental truth about Trump that I have been trying to get people to understand since he announced his latest presidential campaign in June 2015: Trump doesn’t know anything.

I also predicted some months ago that the intellectual and emotional demands of the job would be way beyond him:

Trump is utterly incapable of governing. He is a man who will clearly be unable to master the complex tasks inherent to the job. Being President of a large powerful nation involves dealing with huge amounts of detailed information. Although there is some limited evidence that Trump has some ability to understand short written sentences, there is no way that someone of his *extremely* restricted intellectual prowess will be able to read the morass of documents he will have to handle on a daily basis, or even to understand the most basic gist when they are explained to him. There’s also the question of workload. Here is Obama describing an average day in his life as President. It’s demanding stuff, and the mere fact that the word ‘intelligence’ is used three times suggests strongly that the new President will struggle…Much has been made of his lack of political experience but few have considered the possibility that this is man so lacking in concentration and stamina that he has probably never sat through an entire episode of the West Wing. (Neither have I, but no one has suggested making me President.)

Now he’s made a move that not only reveals that he doesn’t have a strategy – he doesn’t even know the basic rules of the game*. He doesn’t know what moves the cheap made-in-Russia orange-painted piece that’s called the ‘President’ but looks like a gormless orangutan is allowed to make.

His reasons for taking James Comey off the board are so transparent they would shame an 8-year-old having his first chess lesson with his grandfather. Every pawn in the world knows that Trump was grateful to Comey for stealing him the election. That’s not why he was sacked. Trump got rid of the FBI director because he’s investigating the Russian connections of the Trump election campaign. Trump doesn’t understand enough about being President to know that with very rare and apparently honourable exceptions, Presidents don’t sack the boss of the FBI.

In making a move which reveals that he doesn’t know how the game works, Trump has also demonstrated that he’s not capable of thinking more than one move ahead and has no ability to predict how his opponent will respond. I predict that at some point very soon he will, as I’m sometimes tempted to do when obviously losing, angrily sweep all the pieces away and storm off. The geopolitical implications of my doing that would of course be very limited. In the case of Trump, Republican leaders – as I argued a few months ago – have to step in and gently lead him away from the table before he wipes us all off the board.


* Trump has actually claimed to be “slightly, no, a lot better than you at chess”, whoever you are.