Sports, including chess, have an obviously primitive aspect.
By Shelby Lyman
Setting the opponent up for the “kill” is a common procedure. In life itself, it is possible to compromise. But in most sports most of the time, it’s either win or lose – or metaphorically speaking – kill or be killed, prey or be preyed upon.
Of course, the basic premise is play and fun. The ludic element is strong in humans and other mammals. Anyone who has watched humans, dogs, polar bears or orangutans at play, for example, can testify to this. But play, as we all have experienced – woefully so on occasion – also has its serious aspects.
Bobby Fischer once noted that scoring in basketball is like executing a winning move in chess: maneuver, maneuver and maneuver some more until the opponent is vulnerable and a winning move or blow can be delivered.
This is obviously true of many sports, such as boxing, squash, tennis and fencing and more. Fencing for good reason is sometimes referred to as “physical chess.”
“Touche,” we sometimes playfully exclaim when we are the recipient of a clever blow in conversation, a verbal sport for many of us.
My own experience is that chess can indeed be helpful, in conversation and serious argument. The premise is that the skills gained through chess are useful in anticipating possibilities and sequences in conversation rapidly and critically so as to be able to make a quick and effective response.