Shelby Lyman on Chess: More Relevant Than We Think
Sunday, October 4, 2015
(Published in print: Sunday, October 4, 2015)
“Chess is the touchstone of intellect,” we are told by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
It is also an affair of the heart, wrote the physician and grandmaster Siegbert Tarrasch, who declared unabashedly that, “Chess, like love, like music, has the power to make men happy.”
Many are attracted to its universality, as expressed by the Indian proverb, “Chess is a sea in which a gnat can drink and an elephant can bathe.”
The World Chess Federation attests to this essential truth with its motto: “Gens una sumus” (We are one people).
Chess is, above all, a manifestation of the play and sporting instinct. Inextricably linked, play and sports sustain, enhance and celebrate individual and collective life.
At one extreme is the benign, joyful activity of children, at the other a prototype for war.
Princes have been trained in the intricacies of the game so as to better carry out their princely functions.
Military leaders and rulers — no less than Napoleon, Peter the Great and Robert E. Lee — have carried chess sets into battle.
Curiously, in the fiercely competitive world of today, knowledge of chess is an asset proudly listed on a resume. According to The Wall Street Journal, more than 250,000 LinkedIn profiles include a special interest in the game as an item of potential interest to an employer.
Chess, which is growing by leaps and bounds in popularity, is more relevant to our lives than we might think.