Chess: The Most Misunderstood Game that ever Existed

This blog post is going to clear up a couple of common misconceptions of the game of chess.  Firstly, to demonstrate that chess is not merely percieved as a game, read the quote below:

The passion for playing chess is one of the most unaccountable in the world. It slaps the theory of natural selection in the face. It is the most absorbing of occupations. The least satisfying of desires. A nameless excrescence upon life. It annihilates a man. You have, let us say, a promising politician, a rising artist that you wish to destroy. Dagger or bomb are archaic and unreliable – but teach him, inoculate him with chess.  –  H.G. Wells

Okay, so I know that chess is just a game, but clearly, this is not true for everybody.

Misconception #1:  People who play chess are smart

Excelling at chess has long been considered a symbol of more general intelligence. That is an incorrect assumption in my view, as pleasant as it might be.  –  Garry Kasparov

Just because one plays chess does not mean they are smart, and if they are great at chess, there could actually even be a greater liklihood of them not being intelligent.  To be great at chess, one MUST study the game.  It is obvious that if somebody puts in the time and effort to get better at something, they will usually be better than those who did not invest this time and effort.  I do believe chess is a great exercise of mental skills such as abstract thinking, memory, calculation and pattern recognition, but these skills are not the only measurement of intelligence and sometimes these skills may not translate to life accurately (in other words, people can possess the skills, but misapply them). 

Misconception #2: Chess is a sophisticated, intellectual game played by sophisticated intellectuals

Chess is a sport. A violent sport.  –  Marcel Duchamp

Whether or not chess is a sport is not the point for including this quote.  The point is that although chess is may be a game played by civilized people, the game itself is violent.  Also, although the complexities of the game are indeed sophisticated, the purpose of the game remains primitive: to demonstrate superiority over another.  This purpose may sound like the purpose of every other form of competition, however, winning and losing at chess is NOT the same as winning and losing in other sports. I will talk more about this in my next post…..stay tuned!!

For misconceptions of chess players, check out this site!


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