I am a proud and active member of the Peterborough Chess Club. We are a diverse group of chess enthusiasts of all ages, from 8 to 80, and all skill levels, from beginner to Master, who share a love of the Royal Game. For more information, see our website:
Since 2018 I have been thinking about chess from a philosophical perspective. My first article on the topic, “Illusory Checkmates: Why Chess is Not a Game,” will soon be published in the prestigious journal Synthese.
Here are some of my favourite chess quotes:
“Chess, like love, like music, has the power to make men happy.” (Siegbert Tarrasch, The Game of Chess, 1931, Preface, trans. G.E. Smith/T.G. Bone).
“Is it not an insult to call chess anything so narrow as a game? Is it not also a science, an art, hovering between these categories like Muhammad’s coffin between heaven and earth, a unique yoking of opposites, ancient and yet eternally new, mechanically constituted and yet an activity of the imagination alone, limited to a fixed geometric area but unlimited in its permutations, constantly evolving and yet sterile, a cogitation producing nothing, a mathematics calculating nothing, an art without an artwork, an architecture without substance and yet demonstrably more durable in its essence and actual form than all books and works, the only game that belongs to all peoples and eras, while no one knows what god put it on earth to deaden boredom, sharpen the mind, and fortify the spirit? Where does it begin, where does it end?” (Stefan Zweig, Chess Story, 1941, trans. Joel Rotenberg)
“Today we see in chess the fight of aspiring Americanism against the old European intellectual life: a struggle between the technique of Capablanca, a virtuoso in whose play one can find nothing tangible to object to, and between great European masters, all of them artists, who have the qualities as well as the faults of artists in the treatment of the subject they devote their lives to: they experiment and in striving after what is deep down, they overlook what is near at hand… Who will come out of this struggle victorious? Nobody can prophesy the answer. But one thing is certain. If Americanism is victorious in chess, it will also be so in life. For in the idea of chess and the development of the chess mind we have a picture of the intellectual struggle of mankind.” (Richard Réti, Modern Ideas in Chess, 1922, trans. Bruce Alberston)