What Is Chess?

Having a little time recently a book within reach, Soviet Chess Strategy,

by Alexey Suetin, was opened. The first chapter begins: “The game of chess has many facets. Its attraction lies above all in the inner beauty of its ideas – its aesthetics. At the same time the laws of logic are applicable to it – which is what constitutes its affinity with science. The development of creative thought in chess, especially since the Renaissance era, vividly demonstrates that chess is and inseparable part of world culture.”

There has been a movement recently by some people of the Chess world attempting to have the Royal game thought of as a “sport” which is one of the most ridiculous and absurd ideas contemplated in fifty years of being involved with the GAME of Chess.

I put the book down and picked up a recent copy of the best Chess magazine in the universe, New In Chess, and again read, “Lately I have been feeling that chess is not a sport. It’s more like an art, a social occasion; it’s a game. And there is a big difference between sport and a game. Football is a game, but it’s mostly sport. You’re for somebody, you love some team, you want them to win. I don’t see chess this way. It’s more of a social thing, an intellectual thing. All this competitiveness at the top level, which has always been there – who is first in the rankings – I am not particularly interested in this aspect. For me it’s much more important to hang out with the guys, because they are very interesting people. I like being around chess players. That’s my motivation for the tournament.” – Ilya Levitov, In The Spirit Of Amber in Amsterdam, New In Chess 2019 #6

According to the Business Standard News Ilya Levitov is a Russian billionaire. He is also one of the authors of the magnificent book From London to Elista.

Exclusive interview of Ilya Levitov

I agree with the Russian “…that chess is not a sport.” Golf is a sport, but also a game. People who play golf greet each other with, “How’s your golf game?” Football is a game. I have never heard anyone at any time say, “We are going to the football sport,” for example, but I have heard, “We are going to the football game.” The reason those two examples are considered both sport and game is because there is physical activity involved with playing a sport. No game in which a human sits for hours at a time will ever be classified as a “sport.”

I decided to do a search with startpage.com to learn what is being said pertaining to what is Chess, but first headed to the dictionary:

Definition of chess

(Entry 1 of 2)
: a game for 2 players each of whom moves 16 pieces according to fixed rules across a checkerboard and tries to checkmate the opponent’s king


a game played on a chessboard by two people who maneuver sixteen pieces each according to rules governing movement of the six kinds of pieces (pawn, rook, knight, bishop, queen, king), the object being to bring the opponent’s king into checkmate.

Then I surfed on over to the Urban Dictionary:

Top definition
A game where if you lose you think the person who beat you must be an extremely intelligent person. And if you win you think you’re the best player ever.
I just won at chess; I could probably beat Bobby Fischer now.
by runandwin January 01, 2005.

A game where the objective is to violently throw your pieces to the floor upon losing.
Chess is being ruined by computer play.
by rocketman77049 December 06, 2009

an extremely challenging, complex game that heightens your skills to think ahead. there are more rules than can be put into a book and it’s usually played by intellectuals, though not all of them can be considered “geeks”, some are hot.
Chess is commonly misconcieved to be boring or stupid.
by melthana April 17, 2010


Life: A Game of Chess
Posted on March 21, 2017 by Brady Moller

Life is one big chessboard. People are the chess pieces.

Chess is a strategy board game where all pieces on the board can move in different positions and each with different limitations. All pieces on the chessboard are moved to strategically over power the opponent’s King and this is how the players ultimately win the game.

Chess, the game of life, is a game where every decision made has an impact on the rest of your game. One bad move and your entire game is ruined or in the least, it makes it hard to recover from that bad choice.

Life: A Game of Chess

Chess has been called a game of war. Check out this article:

Has chess got anything to do with war?

Napoleon and his marshals rendered as chess pieces in a jewelled Russian set


Many have claimed the Royal game can be detrimental to the human brain.

Beware, Playing Lots of Chess Will Shrink Your Brain!

by Christian Jarrett

The idea that localised brain shrinkage isn’t necessarily bad is brought home wonderfully by a new brain scanning study of elite chess players. Jürgen Hänggi took structural MRI scans and diffusion tensor imaging scans of 20 male expert players (including three grandmasters and seven international masters) and compared them with 20 male inexpert players. This is only the second study ever to look at the structural brain differences characteristic of elite chess players, and the first ever to also include a measure of white matter tracts (provided by the diffusion tensor scans).

So, did the elite chess players have huge bulbous temporal lobes for remembering all those chess formations? Did they have massively engorged frontal gyri for considering multiple moves at once? Actually no. There were few structural brain differences between the elite and non-elite players, and those differences that were observed all pointed in the same direction – to localised shrinkage in the brains of the grandmasters and their ilk.

Specifically, the elite players showed reduced grey matter volume in the occipital-temporal junction (OTJ; where the occipital lobe at the back of the head, and the temporal lobes at the side of the head, meet). The OTJ is known to be involved in representing objects and their relations to each other. Elite players also showed reduced “diffusivity” in parts of the superior longitudinal fasciculus. This is a major communication tract in the brain, sending information from visual areas to executive areas. Diffusivity is a technical word for “bushiness”, so elite players showed more pruning along this major communication pathway. Also, the more years experience a player had, the smaller their caudate nucleus volume tended to be (the caudate has many functions, among them decision making).

The fact that playing Chess will make your brain shrink does not sound like a good selling point for the Royal game but maybe if brain shrinkage is actually a good thing it will change the assessment. Then again, maybe not…

How Chess Players’ Brains Are Different From Everybody Else’s

By Ellie Kaufman

Studies show that the brains of people who play chess are significantly different than an average brain. For example, grandmaster chess players have more activity in their frontal and parietal cortices, areas of the brain that focus on problem-solving and recognition.

2. Chess can shrink your brain — which is actually a good thing.

In a study where researchers scanned the brains of elite chess players, they found that these players actually had smaller brains than the non-elite players — and that’s not a bad thing. As Christian Jarrett writes in Wired, their research suggests that areas of brain shrinkage “can be a sign of neural efficiency and a reflection of behavioral expertise” as opposed to a negative result. Bigger is not always better.


Brain Song

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