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Thread: Is chess [still] important?

  1. #1
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    Default Is chess [still] important?

    Is chess [still] important? An older member of my chess club once opined in the new millennium that chess is no longer as important as before. I didn't ask what he meant. To me, chess reached its high mark in the 1970's, mainly with the Geo-political stakes involved in the Fischer-Spassky match, and later the Karpov-Korchnoi one. Chess was also important back then since it was seen as a test for AI whether a machine can beat a highly skilled human player at the game. Chess suffered to some degree because of what followed historically, in both cases.

    These days, one Googles 'why is chess important' and the top answers that come up have only to do with the benefits of chess to students and/or children. Does anyone see any other meaningful reasons why chess might be viewed as important in modern times?
    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
    Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio.

  2. #2
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    If I may humbly suggest, chess serves as an inspiration: people of all kinds of differences being able to come together to compete, to create, to enjoy.

    I'm not aware of any other single activity that can be played across all kinds of divisions that humanity has created, maintains, etc. Chess is universal!

  3. #3
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    I liked Jonathan Rowson's answer in his book "Moves that Matter", which was (basically) that chess gives a chance to experience full and uninterrupted concentration.

    You might want to go back and ask why you ever thought chess was important. If your only answer to that was "cold-war geo-politics" -- rather than something that you liked about it -- then it's time to move on from chess.

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    Well, I think what the senior member of the RA chess club (M. Holmes - hope he doesn't mind the reference) was getting at is that to the average man in the street, chess was more important back in the day (somehow) - take the reasons I gave as my own guess about what a bloke in the street might have felt back in the day. We truly addicted chess players, of course, don't much care what the public thinks, unless it affects the number of people playing or watching the game.

    I like Aris' answer, which I didn't see on Google. I did see at least one reference there to chess teaching concentration, though.
    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
    Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio.

  5. #5
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    My own personal reason(s) for liking chess [initially] had nothing to do with whether chess was important to the public and/or those into AI. Initially, as a child, my father invited me to a game, and I liked the physically beautiful pieces (in communist countries the K's crosses are omitted, and something is done to B's, too; Chinese Chess might advertise itself even better if the pieces were figurines as in chess, rather than discs with Chinese symbols on them - Japanese Chess [shogi] may also have a similar issue, but a bit tougher to solve perhaps, like for Crazyhouse).

    Later I met future Ottawa NM Bob Gelblum, lifelong friend, through his younger brother. Even then Bob had the gift of the gab, and pointed out that in chess it's a question of how far ahead you can see - not as simple as that, but I was inspired to try to play better. I lost invariably to Bob, in his home, until he lent me Fischer's My 60 Memorable Games. I disliked some things about Fischer's personality even then, and I was thus also interested in his weak points, i.e. what Black defence he lost to. The French Winawer stood out, and I used that to first defeat Bob. He promptly noted that he had created a monster. I soon started collecting chess books, getting stronger, but not richer.

    As I grew older I wasn't sure I'd ever even be a master, but the chess vs. AI issue intrigued me. I felt conflicted. On one hand I wanted humanity's genius to shine on forever, proved by chess, but as a slightly frustrated and already addicted chess player, I wondered if someone (even me) could program an engine to beat people, or even solve chess, and then I could quit the game with a clear conscience and spend more of my time on other things. Well, AI conquered chess, more or less, eventually, but by then my addiction and time investment to the game was strong enough that I just kept on playing...

    edit: For more insights (including more positive ones), here's a couple of entries from my CFC blog:
    chesscanada.info/forum/entry: A Canadian chessmaster discusses his benefits & disappointments from offline chess:

    https://www.chesscanada.info/forum/e...-offline-chess

    chesscanada.info/forum/entry: 12 reasons to play chess:

    https://www.chesscanada.info/forum/e...-to-play-chess
    Last edited by Kevin Pacey; 01-22-2022 at 09:25 AM. Reason: Adding link
    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
    Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio.

  6. #6
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    My latest attempt to Google an interesting answer was 'Top 10 reasons why chess is important'; as I half-expected, the first page of answers by Google had to do with just the benefits of chess - below is the first answer, today (of the 10 benefits, none were unique to chess - I'm not sure the combination of the 10 could be called unique to it, either, e.g. Chinese Chess might offer the same - if, say, that game ever became known to be at least as widespread AND popular as chess, Aris' earlier answer re: chess being important would lose some of its force):

    chess.com/article/view/Top 10 benefits of chess:

    https://www.chess.com/article/view/benefits-of-chess
    Last edited by Kevin Pacey; 01-27-2022 at 01:11 PM. Reason: Spelling
    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
    Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio.

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    Some other (perhaps somewhat relevant) entries from my CFC blog:

    chesscanada.info/forum/entry.php?109-Why-is-chess-so-popular-among-board-games-of-skill:

    https://www.chesscanada.info/forum/e...games-of-skill

    chesscanada.info/forum/entry.php?107-Discussion-of-some-modern-problems-for-chess-(e-g-computers):

    https://www.chesscanada.info/forum/e...e-g-computers)

    chesscanada.info/forum/entry.php?93-Updated-version-3-0-of-the-future-of-chess-(links-added):

    https://www.chesscanada.info/forum/e...-(links-added)
    Last edited by Kevin Pacey; 01-31-2022 at 11:55 PM. Reason: Adding link
    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
    Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio.

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