Friday, June 1, 2018

The Endless Fascination of Chess

People who have never played chess or who only play chess casually often are puzzled by the strong grip that the game has on its most avid adherents. How can something that is "just a game" be so captivating, enticing--possibly even addictive?

A few months ago, International Master Justin Sarkar wrote eloquently about this subject, stating, "Words can hardly even describe the impact of chess on me or where I would be without chess...The inherent beauty of the game and personal benefits in fighting my illness speak louder than the implicit demands and stresses of chess tournament play, to the point of it being more like a stress reliever and positive distraction than other things."

Prof. Lakshmi Narayana's article Understanding My Passion for Chess provides an in depth look into the mind/soul of a chess lover. Please take a moment to click the link and read the entire piece; here is a taste of his perspective to whet your appetite:
If I ask myself why do I have such a great passion for chess and analyze the reasons for my predilection I get the following answers:
Logic and Reasoning triumph and there is no element of chance in chess which is the reason for any philosophically inclined person to admire chess...

Another important quality of chess is the aesthetic element. It not only satisfies the sense of logic of humans but also their desire for beauty. Beauty according to Kant's Critique of Judgment is "A harmonious interplay of all the different faculties of human mind." This definition applies very well to the chess game...

Humans have the enduring need to reach their goals in the most perfect and elegant manner. Chess reflects this and fulfils this need. The feeling of empowerment is embodied in chess and gives the experience of a sense of mastery and control to the players. People love adventures. Each game of chess is one such adventure...

The world-class grand master of his times from Germany, Dr.Siegbert Tarrasch has said "Chess like love like music has the power to make men happy" (Tarrasch,1935). Similar to the experience of love which shakes one to the core and which opens a whole new world for one completely forgetting the outside world, chess also takes one to a whole new world of pawns and bishops, knights and rooks, kings and queens and their interplay and the patterns that develop will shake you to the core.
If someone tells you that chess is just a game and you should not waste your time with it, you can reply that life may be a game with uncertain rules and outcomes but chess is an oasis of logic, beauty and purity in an otherwise often chaotic world.

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