Shelby Lyman on Chess: The Battlefield of Life
Column c2251 for release Sept 14
Sunday, September 20, 2015
(Published in print: Sunday, September 20, 2015)
Sports are curiously contradictory. They range in character from activities that are pure, or almost pure, play to those that are brutally competitive.
The same sport can, of course, wander the extremes.
The harmless activity of children playfully sparring with each other in a playground is transformed in a professional boxing ring into a brutal and bloody attempt to pummel the opponent into unconsciousness. Bodily and cognitive maiming are frequent results. Death an occasional one.
For most of us, chess is more a relaxing form of play than a competitive sport.
Jose Capablanca — world champion from 1921-27 — offered the following insight: “During the course of many years I have observed that a great number of doctors, lawyers, and important businessmen make a habit of visiting a chess club during the late afternoon or evening to relax and find relief from the preoccupations of their work.”
The Cuban nonpareil of chess probably is describing a scene he repeatedly witnessed at the Manhattan Chess Club, which he often frequented in his later years.
My own personal experience is that chess, as a form of play, is an alluring diversion from stress of any kind.
Besides its feel-good quality, it reinvigorates me for a return to the battlefield of life.
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