Yes, many of us are familiar with the Avengers superhero movie. But here I am referring to the last portion of a chess game when the board is empty save for the kings, maybe some knights, bishops, or a few pawns. How do we play when we only have a few moves left?
Apart from being a wonderful human being and doctor and one of my best friends, Ben is an extraordinary chess player. It runs in his family. His younger sister once beat me handily despite playing without a rook. Recently, Ben showed me an interview with Magnus Carlsen, the current World Chess Champion, which reinvigorated my passion for the game that had not been realized in many years. After all, I am half Russian, so it is in my blood to at least enjoy watching chess. I spent hours watching YouTube videos of grandmasters battling each other: Carlsen vs. Anand, Karpov vs. Kasparov, Fischer vs. Spassky, Keymer vs. Caruana, etc. For some, it could be an exercise in boredom as admittedly it may take several minutes for a move to be played, but it can get very intense, especially toward the end.
I often find in managing patients long-term for chronic kidney disease, heart failure, or osteoarthritis that there is no one right way to go about treatment. “Winning” in terms of the game of Fido vs. Terminal Illness does not mean curing it. There may not be the satisfaction of checkmate, but the reward is in the process. It often involves reducing flair-ups of sequelae of disease, multimodal analgesia, and having long conversations with owners to ensure that their loved one’s quality of life is as optimal as possible.