“Chess is mental torture” – Garry Kasparov
“Checkers is for tramps” – Paul Morphy
The noble art of Chess, is one I haven’t indulged in for many a year, until recently when I found I had it on the laptop all along, I’m a bit slow like that. These last few days I have been satiating a long forgotten love for the game and reminding myself of the ridiculous amount of complexities surrounding it.
There are many reasons why I adore this pastime, the rules that are simple to master hiding the detailed intricacies and endlessly fascinating nature of it, its graceful flow and brutal takings of the various pieces. There is risk involved of course, the press makes a big thing of a few of the grand masters going insane, so I like to think I am on the threshold of madness. I like the drama.
To combine psychology, logic, intuition and creativity into a simple game is probably something that won’t happen much in this age of fast thrills and non stop, wall to wall repetitive noise, so it’s nice to kick back with those 64 squares, a board you have to control knowing that any mistakes are all your own doing and adapting your game plan as you go is key to success.
In my mind, I like to think this is how battles were fought in olden times, the sacrificing of pieces for the greater good, surrendering ground where necessary and second guessing your own judgement as well as your opponents. Striking a fine balance between offensive and defensive moves. This way there is no bloodshed either which is nice.
Black Vs White, a simple battle, a fair game where everyone has the same information. It’s educational and also allows a kind of artistry that anyone can acquire (with hard work, of course), not to mention it spans the generations and is a basis for a more civilised world.
Apart from emphasising control to curb those quick fire instincts, it also has been referenced in more work than you can shake a cat tied to a stick at, Everything from Alice Through the Looking Glass, The Tempest, From Russia With Love, Lord of the Flies, Love in the Time of Cholera and not forgetting Chess by Stefan Zweig, which I will review when I find it.
Poets do not go mad; but chess players do. mathematicians go mad and cashiers but creative artists very seldom. I am not, as will be seen, in any sense attacking logic: I only say that this danger does lie in logic, not in imagination – G.K. Chesterton