A Piece on Chess

Chessbrainz Dec 04,2021 - 03:22

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“I have come to the personal conclusion that while all artists are not chess players, all chess players are artists”

 -Marcel Duchamp

Let’s begin with the premise of the game, shall we? So, we have the game played between two players with white pieces and black pieces. Each player has a set of eight pawns, two rooks, two knights, two bishops, one Queen, and one King. The end goal is to checkmate the opponent’s King, basically attack the King; also known as ‘check’ing, and the King has no move to escape this particular attack. I remember how I fondly watched the Wizard Chess scene in ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’, back when I initially started playing the game. The main character Harry Potter wins the game (obviously), with his best friend, Ron Weasley, doing most of the strategic playing. This incredible scene portrayed the pillars of friendship, bravery, and all things good- chess included. 

Looking at the board, you see a 8x8 board of 64 squares and one might wonder how the game does not get boring after some point. But, let me tell you that after each move you have several hundred different possible positions you can get to, and this number only increases exponentially with each move. Additionally, this game is known to be a strategic one, which might come across as intimidating to some at first. I have often heard people say that ‘the game of chess is not for me, I have to be incredibly smart to play’. Well, I have news for all the rook-ies out there: while you do require specific skills to play good chess, it is quite honestly something a player acquires over time while consistently playing it. While talent is needed to master the art of chess, to be able to learn the nuances of the game with its intricacies, equal parts of hard work is a must to excel in this competitive sport. Which is why, just like any other athletic sport being played, perseverance is key in chess. This is genuinely something I like about the game- you do not have to give up your game despite being in a minus position ‘cause there is a possibility of a brilliant comeback right around the corner and  often times, there have been players who have had amazing comebacks and nailed their games. This is great analogy for life in itself. Furthermore, what I have grown to like about chess are the analogies the game carries with real life experiences. We have the ‘Pawn Promotion’, which is when the pawn perseveres through the game, makes it to the final rank, and gets promoted to any higher ranking piece. Similarly, in life where you start from doesn’t matter as much as what you do make of it. Moving on to piece sacrifices in the game, this familiar technique is often used to distract your opponent from your winning plan by sacrificing your piece, likewise, at times you might need to forego what might seem to be important in the moment for the greater good which is to meet your end goal. As Alex Gendler has rightly put it that chess has been known as a tool of military strategy, a metaphor for human affairs, and a benchmark for genius.

Chess has a simple premise yet such a beautiful complex. Anatoly Karpov, the former World Champion described Chess as everything. For him, it was the beautiful amalgamation of art, science and sport.Tactics, strategic planning, setting up traps for your opponent to fall in, and learning the psychology of the opponent sitting right in front of you are some of the few concepts I learned from my coaches when I started playing chess and what I absolutely loved about this sport since I started out when I was barely seven was that your age did not matter, your gender, your physical strength did not matter, you could be a seven year old child sitting on multiple chairs piled on top of each other just to physically be able to see  the board but these external aspects did not matter because with my simple game I could crumble my opponents psych and shatter their mindset and the game, and be victorious regardless of them being five times my age!

We do have several acclaimed benefits of playing chess, such as developing a reasoning ability, looking through tactics and strategic attacks, thinking ahead, planning and execution, developing different thinking patterns, and these skills developed while playing this beautiful game of chess will always be reflected in the players life. These skills come in handy during their academic lives and later on in their professional work lives. Grand-master Garry Kasparov, who was the world’s youngest champion at the age of 22,  said that Chess is a combination of different abilities of the pieces and our fore-bearers did a great job by coming up with such a balanced game.

As of now, chess is still not included under the list of Olympic Sports despite it being one of the most common games played around the world, with 60 million games being played everyday on an average across the globe. The current World Chess Championships are ongoing in Dubai this year from the 26th of November to the 16th of December between the reigning champion Magnus Carlsen and the challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi, over the course of three weeks. So by the time you would have read this article, we could possibly have a new world champion.

Written by Andria D’Souza

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