Sunday, 10 March 2013

The Huhne-Pryce game

From the beginning of the Huhne-Pryce affair, I've seen it through the metaphor of a chess game. Although chess over-simplifies the story, viewing it as a game has shaken up my notions of competent tactical and strategic game-playing. 

Firstly the two protagonists, Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce, were extremely successful by most standards, handling the tactical and strategic aspects of their careers particularly well. Far better than the vast majority of us anyway. I'm sure Huhne wasn't liked, but he was successful and would be successful today if he hadn't blundered it away. 

Yes, it’s easy enough to weave stories around their mutual lapse and one or two high fliers plummet to the ground every now and then, but if we see it as a metaphorical game of chess, this affair is the result of a number of startlingly bad moves. Any one of them could easily have been avoided or mitigated.

  1. 1999 - Huhne is caught speeding.
  2. He persuades Pryce to say she was the driver.
  3. 2010 He dumps Pryce, his wife for 26 years.
  4. 2011 evidence emerges that Pryce wasn’t driving in 1999. 

Moves 1, 2 and 3 seem to be where it all went wrong, although no doubt there are numerous nuances, not all of which are in the public arena.

In a game of chess played by professionals, even one bad move may lead to a player’s position steadily becoming untenable. Often the dud move which caused all the problems is glaringly obvious. Yet the Huhne-Pryce game was a series of obvious blunders made by supposed professionals. That is if their earlier careers are any guide to their status as players.

So I find I’m left with the sense of a game played by professionals, but the blunders strongly suggest a pair of beginners. Not only that, but sticking with the chess metaphor, the game seems to have been played in a wildly aggressive manner. There is precious little quality safety play to be seen and not a lot of strategic nous either.

No doubt aggression is a clue, otherwise it doesn’t add up and much more importantly it doesn’t inspire our confidence in those still left in the game. Surely the rest of them aren't this prone to make obvious blunders and aren't so wildly aggressive?

Are they?


Anonymous said...

Blunders? I should think Ms Pryce keeps a payoff matrix in her handbag - every option worked out to 9 decimals. The jury dumped the justice problem on the judge - will be interesting to see how that is resolved - perhaps 'Mr Huhne, you can at last do the gentlemanly thing - and take your ex wife's points'.

Sam Vega said...

The chess analogy is interesting, but only partly relevant, I feel. Politics and these types of careers are not really about the strategic thinking and caution which characterises chess. They are more about being a self-promoting, risk-taking, showboating shit. This type of behaviour carries its own risks, and I suspect given time and a few altered circumstances there are few in our "elite" who would not fall foul of their earlier actions.

Demetrius said...

It is a very long time since I last played chess. As a youngster there was no option, father was both keen and very good, with trophies. I was very bad. Later on I came up against useful players (County level) in informal games. The ploy was quite simple. As I was on a loser from the start in any real game so my moves then had to be wholly irrational, in not making sense in terms the previous moves and paying no sort of attention to the usual "gambits". Whilst still on the whole a loser, now and again I could disrupt the opponent enough for him to make a bad mistake. But the one thing I did not do was gamble money. A pint maybe for courtesy but no more.

Macheath said...

If the Huhne-Pryce game is chess, then it is surely one of those tri-dimensional games Spock used to play in 'Star Trek' - complete with a supporting cast who wouldn't be out of place in one of the more outre episodes.

James Higham said...

Very sad situation but it does seem to me he is the truly culpable one, more so than her. She's doing the woman scorned bit.

A K Haart said...

Roger - I mainly see it as a blunder because there are a number of unflattering admissions rolled up in there, but no obvious gains.

Sam - I think you are right, but I like the chess analogy because it brings out the magnitude of their blunders.

Demetrius - I was quite good at chess, but never really followed it up beyond my teens. I won quite a few games at league level by the use of unusual openings, although sometimes it backfired.

Mac - which is Spock, Huhne or Pryce?

James - yes, I do wonder why she didn't just leave it and move on.

Macheath said...

Which one's Spock? On first thought, I'd have said the redoubtable Pryce, but I might have to reconsider, given Lembit Opik's recent description of Huhne's left-brain dominance.