Chess as mental training

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In 1779 the famous Benjamin Franklin wrote in his article The morals of chess:

"The Game of Chess is not merely an idle amusement; several very valuable qualities of the mind, useful in the course of human life, are to be acquired and strengthened by it, so as to become habits ready on all occasions; for life is a kind of Chess, in which we have often points to gain, and competitors or adversaries to contend with, and in which there is a vast variety of good and ill events, that are, in some degree, the effect of prudence, or the want of it. By playing at Chess then, we may learn:

1st, Foresight, which looks a little into futurity, and considers the consequences that may attend an action ...

2nd, Circumspection, which surveys the whole Chess-board, or scene of action: - the relation of the several Pieces, and their situations; ...

3rd, Caution, not to make our moves too hastily...."

The game of chess can be a tool to aid your intellectual development.

Cornel Pacurar is a chess problem composer living in Toronto, Canada, who started publishing an electronic free bulletin dedicated to chess composition (in general, and Series-Movers in particular).

The first issue of the Bulletin appeared in March 2014 and includes a short overview of some past prizewinners, an assorted collection of original compositions, the results of the 5th TT (BackHome), an interesting Vertical Mirror Circe article, followed by a number of recent series-mover tourney announcements and, finally, an up-to-date table of series move-length records.

Analogies and parallels to the game of chess

The following text is by Günther Nicolin and from the introduction to the book "Schach - Spiegel der Gesellschaft" (chess - mirrors of the society), published 1992 in the chess publishing house of Arno Nickel, Berlin. ISBN 3-924833-26-5.

Fernando Arrabal, the Spanish dramatist, stated Bobby Fischer during the world championship fight against Boris Spassky (1972 in Reykjavik):

"Chess is not like the life…
Chess is the life.
Exactly like the theatre. "


On closer examination: Arrabal is not content to see the game of chess in comparison to the life but he sees it as an analogy for the life in so far an equality of conditions. For the dramatist Arrabal is it obvious to draw also the parallel to the theatre.

Elke Rehder’s artistic reflections on chess go into a very similar direction. Remarkable is that the artist became the inspiration by observing an open-air chess game. Normally the game is played sitting and nearly motionlessly. But in open-air chess the playing field must be entered by the players and the chessmen must be carried from field to field, in order to realize the respective draws. The intellectual debate of the players gains additional dynamic and life. Furthermore this game is played in the public; chess becomes quasi a "res publica", a public thing.

"The Flank Bishop" painting            "The e-Pawn" painting


Elke Rehder understands the game of chess as a reflection of social life in the historical past just like in the present: hierarchical systems and class societies become visible - competitive situations as for example in the working sphere (searching problem solutions, goal-oriented working, switching disturbing factors, enforcing of own ideas, eliminating a competitor) appear, the chessboard becomes to a social experimental field with many possibilities of social cooperation and disharmony.

On closer look to Elke Rehder’s chess pictures, which are painted on canvas and in mixed media on paper or with acrylic, some significant characteristics attract attention. Abstract to the game situation, the opponents of the game are not displayed. The artist deliberately omitted the pose of the two chess players and their game-arranging dominance. However the chessboard and the chess pieces (= social experimentation field) are taken into the view; the chess pieces win an independent existence: the kings negotiate with one another, the bishop dances over the chessboard, the pawns - armed with lances - are nearly always present, marked by the artist in a provocatively shining red.

The titles of the pictures - a further characteristic - are mostly from the chess terminology, like "The Opening", "Dragon Variant", "Knight takes Rook", "Remis" etc. What in the respective picture is shown, does not correspond to the chess terminology in the sense of a chess diagram. Rather we see a life situation, differently said a scene "exactly like the theatre" (Arrabal).


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