NEVER been entirely certain as to why, but the great and noble city of Dundee (guess where I was raised) has long had a lively chess scene.

OK, fair point. Strike “lively” and “scene”. Chess, although thrilling, remains, to some extent, the domain of the geek. Still, as a game, it inculcates key lessons.

Mostly, it can teach us patience and persistence. The crucial importance of the endgame.

So, you have an elegant Sicilian defence? Yes, yes, we all marvel at your pawn structure. Just tell me this: who is going to capture the king? And how?

These and sundry other thoughts crowded in upon me, unbidden, as I observed the various discussions anent Covid at Holyrood this week. The First Minister’s update, committee hearings, Nicola Sturgeon’s weekly exchange with MSPs, including Opposition leaders.

In the battle with this hideous plague, we may be entering the endgame.

To be clear, the virus will not have a precisely defined close. No checkmate. There will be no referee (not even Douglas Ross) to blow that decisive final whistle, bringing the contest to a complete close.

Read more from Brian Taylor: Are our politicians too corrupt to be trusted with the fate of the planet?

Rather, Covid will hirple on, continuing to infect unlucky or ill-prepared individuals and groups. But, it is to be hoped, in diminishing numbers.

We are perhaps, to misappropriate Churchill, at the beginning of the end. Two reasons suggest that.

Firstly, I have heard scientists say that, by the spring, the virus should be measurably diminished. That we have a very tough winter to survive. Literally.

But that things should then begin to improve, partly because we can construct our defences ever more strongly and partly as Covid itself begins to weaken.

It is possible, for example, that a further mutation of the virus might maintain its inbuilt mission to spread but might not be as deleterious to our health.

Secondly, take a lesson from the Great Influenza pandemic which afflicted the globe – and killed millions – from February 1918 to, very roughly, spring 2020.

That timescale look familiar? It would equate, again very roughly, with this current hideous plague beginning to release its grip from next spring.

At Holyrood this week, there was agreement on one thing. We need to maintain our guard. And that means sustaining the programme of vaccination, including boosters.

But there was sharp disagreement as to the broader endgame.

The First Minister has proposed extending the use of vaccine passports to pubs, cinemas, theatres and the like.

That is conditional upon a consultation taking place right now with the leisure industry and others. Business is anxious, warning of an “avalanche of cancellations” as the change impacts.

Read more from Brian Taylor: Covid passports row highlights the limits of Nicola Sturgeon’s power

Opposition leaders too question the approach. For the Tories, Douglas Ross said business had been “treated as an afterthought”.

Labour’s Anas Sarwar said the FM got it wrong by not originally featuring a negative test option in the package. She says the aim was to incentivise vaccination.

Alex Cole-Hamilton, for the Liberal Democrats, said people should not be obliged to disclose their vaccination status to a non-clinician.

Nicola Sturgeon’s very tone was tentative. However, she indicated that the alternative might be effective closure for some businesses.

In a sense, they are all right. The consultation with business has been too rushed. But perhaps a pandemic has little respect for the proprieties of governance.

There ARE civil liberties issues with regard to the disclosure of vaccination details, in effect a citizen’s health record. Perhaps, though, those are trumped by other requirements. Perhaps.

And, frankly, Ministers have sometimes seemed uncertain over the use of vax certification and/or negative tests. Welcome to government in the plague years.

Either way, it seems pretty likely that some form of extension will be sanctioned when the First Minister announces her conclusions on Tuesday. That would take effect from December 6.

In anticipation, SNP voices have been raised, again somewhat tentatively, defending the prospect. John Mason MSP even suggested to business leaders in committee that they were, to some extent, “crying wolf”, over-stating their case.

He illustrated this by describing his own search for sustenance in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Restaurants? “Absolutely full.” A pub? “Couldn’t find a seat.”

Until now, I had seldom seen the MSP for Shettleston as a boulevardier or man about town, albeit a thwarted one. But I take his point, although the licensed trade responded by noting that their aim was to keep their premises busy.

In her own comments, Nicola Sturgeon said she was “acutely aware” that business loathed the notion of further constraints. Rather, they wanted liberalisation, a chance to trade again, with what is customarily labelled the Festive Season almost upon us once more.

In essence, we have two fundamental approaches before us. Do we enter this next phase of Covid with enhanced government constraint upon human activity? Or do we trust/hope that vaccination will do its work?

Politics and the character of individual politicians create role play. Mr Ross essayed the part of Mr Angry, complaining bitterly that business had been left in the dark. As noted above, he has a point.

Douglas Ross seems to exasperate the FM. She decried his “immaturity and irresponsibility”. (She used to reserve such comments for Willie Rennie.)

But, more generally, Covid has changed her. Sturgeon Mark One might have maintained that tone throughout, castigating her opponents, picking a fight.

But today’s FM openly conceded the imprecision underlying her statements, the need to “take very unpalatable decisions to prevent the situation getting worse.”

As she has noted previously, whenever you think you have Covid licked, it mutates or breaks out anew, as if to mock your endeavours.

We are getting there. Science and history teach us that. But it was intriguing to note that the FM now deploys a phrase she previously eschewed; “living with Covid”.

However, there was a caveat. This must not be seen as “simply giving in to the virus”.

Rather, it was about making the “sensible changes” that might permit us to return both to “greater normality and to better health.”

Note the use of comparatives there. The absence of absolutes. We will not defeat Covid. We will contain it, subdue it. The endgame may be a form of stalemate.