# The Playing with Yourself Paradox

## Recommended Posts

You sit down at the chess table, you lay your pieces on the board, you start by setting up the black pieces. Then, you switch seats and set up the white. For some reason, you've always felt it was unfair that white always gets to move first. How can that be a rule? Why is it a rule? Nevermind. The games about to start. White moves first. It's a French open. Nothing too serious. It's always better to play black defensively anyway. You watch and react to the flow of the game until finally, on the 27th move, checkmate. You look over at your opponent, no one there. You look down at the board, white won. Black king wasn't able to get out of the castle before it was too late.

Who won the game? Who was black and who was white? Who lost?

Hint: This is epistemically unsolvable.

I created this problem awhile ago so I figured it would be good to share on here by way of Introducing myself.

I am MSC. I am a Philosopher. I am also a Polymath. I'll be posting some contemporary work (Not mine) in the philosophy section very soon. I've already searched for the terms I will be discussing and have found that they have not been discussed here before. I really can't wait to start some of these discussions with you all and am very much looking forward to some Critical Conversations with anyone whom wishes to take part.

No, I will not tell you what MSC stands for. That too will be a puzzle to potentially be solved by someone on this forum after the clues have been laid out. This puzzle is the first of those clues.

Enjoy everyone!

Additional: I made this puzzle, but I do not know what the true answer to it is. I have my answer, but people won't like it. Too bad. That is the closest we can get for now.

##### Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Not much of a paradox.  The definitions of Won and Lost imply a contest, which implies two or more contestants.  Your example was not a contest.  Therefore the words do not apply.  M(ore) S(lippery)C(oncepts}? 🙂

Edited by OldChemE
clarity

##### Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, OldChemE said:

Not much of a paradox.  The definitions of Won and Lost imply a contest, which implies two or more contestants.  Your example was not a contest.  Therefore the words do not apply.  M(ore) S(illy)C(oncepts}?

A fair answer. It's probably maybe wrong but it's a fair answer.

So your answer; is that nobody could have won or lost based on your claim that all contests need two contestants? Is that a fair break down of your answer?

Are black and white not the contestants?

##### Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Let me put it another way; riddles are also a type of contest.

If riddles are a type of contest, who are you competing against right now? Me? Or are competitions and contests not the same thing?

What if I told you that in this riddle, two persons are playing. One lost, one won.

So, who won?

This riddle has in no way been answered yet.

Edited by MSC
Clarity.

##### Share on other sites

Oh, I thought this thread was literally about 'playing with yourself' ...

##### Share on other sites

What's the paradox? The title implies that "yourself" played both black and white. White won the game. You were both black and white. You won as white and lost as black. There's nothing paradoxical about that, and not even a feeling of doubt about those answers, let alone a sense that it's unsolvable.

What am I missing? Is there some assumption that is somehow a tautology, something like "You can't be your own adversary"? "One entity cannot be two different things at once?" I can't think of any assumption that I agree with that would require a contradiction in answering the questions. What is the gist of the argument that it's unsolvable?

5 hours ago, MSC said:

I have my answer, but people won't like it.

I would bet money that you're right! I'm curious about your reasoning though.

2 hours ago, MSC said:

What if I told you that in this riddle, two persons are playing. One lost, one won.

White won, "you" were playing white. No other person was mentioned. The title implies your opponent was yourself. If you are calling "yourself" two persons, that's fine, I see nothing paradoxical about that.

Ignoring the title, the story describes an opponent who is not seen when the game is won. It could describe a game against someone else, who stood up and walked around after playing their final move. Not only is there no paradox, there are multiple consistent interpretations. Is it "unsolvable" because you've left out information?

But I suspect that the two people are both you, and that somehow that seems impossible to you. I suspect that one person is described as "two persons" for the meaning of "playing a game for two persons", and then the meaning of "two persons" is switched, without it being obvious to you, to mean "two persons refers to separate individuals".

##### Share on other sites

One of the reasons I used to dislike Philosophy ( till Eise came along ).
Most ,who call themselves philosophers, are just stroking their … ego.

##### Share on other sites
13 hours ago, MSC said:

You sit down at the chess table, you lay your pieces on the board, you start by setting up the black pieces. Then, you switch seats and set up the white. For some reason, you've always felt it was unfair that white always gets to move first. How can that be a rule? Why is it a rule? Nevermind. The games about to start. White moves first. It's a French open. Nothing too serious. It's always better to play black defensively anyway. You watch and react to the flow of the game until finally, on the 27th move, checkmate. You look over at your opponent, no one there. You look down at the board, white won. Black king wasn't able to get out of the castle before it was too late.

Who won the game? Who was black and who was white? Who lost?

Your outline scenario is, seemingly, inadequately clothed. @OldChemE and @md65536 have offered plausible explanations. I note that your outline is consistent with the following account:

You set up both sets of pieces, but the play was conducted by two players known only as white and black. White won.

Other satisfactory explanations are possible. You can reject the above explanation only on the basis of nice interpretations of your lexicology and grammar that you have (deliberately?) made ambiguous.

Who won the game? Who was black and who was white? Who lost? . . . . . Who cares?

13 hours ago, MSC said:

No, I will not tell you what MSC stands for.

I'll tell you what Area54 stands for if you promise never to tell me what MSC stands for.

##### Share on other sites
7 hours ago, md65536 said:

What's the paradox? The title implies that "yourself" played both black and white. White won the game. You were both black and white. You won as white and lost as black. There's nothing paradoxical about that, and not even a feeling of doubt about those answers, let alone a sense that it's unsolvable.

What am I missing? Is there some assumption that is somehow a tautology, something like "You can't be your own adversary"? "One entity cannot be two different things at once?" I can't think of any assumption that I agree with that would require a contradiction in answering the questions. What is the gist of the argument that it's unsolvable?

I would bet money that you're right! I'm curious about your reasoning though.

White won, "you" were playing white. No other person was mentioned. The title implies your opponent was yourself. If you are calling "yourself" two persons, that's fine, I see nothing paradoxical about that.

Ignoring the title, the story describes an opponent who is not seen when the game is won. It could describe a game against someone else, who stood up and walked around after playing their final move. Not only is there no paradox, there are multiple consistent interpretations. Is it "unsolvable" because you've left out information?

But I suspect that the two people are both you, and that somehow that seems impossible to you. I suspect that one person is described as "two persons" for the meaning of "playing a game for two persons", and then the meaning of "two persons" is switched, without it being obvious to you, to mean "two persons refers to separate individuals".

Ditto.

##### Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Area54 said:

It's meant to seem that way. It wouldn't be a literary paradox otherwise.

All Paradox means in this context; an anomalous juxtaposition of incongruous ideas, for the sake of striking exposition or unexpected insight. It's a literary device, a dramatic figure of speech, if you will.

The problem is actually very carefully worded and my answer is an entirely reachable answer based on only what is there. I left nothing out and no information is missing.

In order for it to be a paradox in this sense, since it has been up for over 24 hours and I am now no longer limited to 5 responses a day, it's time to reveal the unexpected insight.

Every single person who engages with this problem, chooses to enter into a game played against themselves. In essence, by engaging with the problem, you simultaneously create the same problem.

For example: You engage with the Playing with yourself Paradox, the Paradox is solved.

In a game of chess with yourself, you've likely already made a decision as to which side will win and which will lose. A part of you plays the role of "winner" and another plays the part of "loser".

The loser personality will self sabotage and not make the strongest plays that you, as an individual, would normally make against another individual. The winner personality will make your strongest plays by virtue of knowing exactly what LP is trying to do.

This is similar to how we are less likely to be charitable towards views that disagree with our own. If we can never know what is the correct answer, then we become our own referees and decide for ourselves if we have given the correct answer.

I'm not competing with anyone here, just myself. The same goes for anyone else whom engages with this puzzle. In a sense, everyone who provided an answer they were confident of, won. Yet they also lost because they were never seriously considering any other answer as valid save their own.

I can say, as my answer. The person who won was the part of you that played white. The person who lost was the part of you that played as black. If that is the answer, it provides us with some insight into the topic of personal identity. The claim, that we as individuals can have more than one personality or personal construct within our bodies may have to be taken seriously in this case, at the very least you can't be laughed out of the room for making the claim.

I hope this clears some things up. I may have only joined this forum yesterday, I was not born yesterday. Now, individuals here might want to reject my answer offhand. This is encouraged but I'd hope for a reasonably and logically made argument as to why my answer must be rejected. Preferably an argument not made by those with in-group biases who reject it due to my newness on the forum.

Pleased to meet you all and I'm grateful to everyone who commented.

## Create an account

Register a new account