Kindred’s Special: Chess & Politics–A crucial analysis

Differences of opinion governing the elements upon which we strive to live our lives can either enrich or decay the spirit within us that is sometimes conveyed as character beliefs. We read or listen with agreement or readiness to debate issues propositioned to sway us and cast a vote up or down, accept or decline, many touching on the tags of liberalism, conservatism or other “isms” that might define the topic of the moment.

Let me cite what parental concern vibrates when voiced or written that reflects upon our noble game of chess in a purely divisive and disillusioned fashion. A mother in defense of raising her children has called chess a “war game” not fit for kids because it teaches competition, factional strife, killing symbolically those forces in the two camps and denegrating the poorest among them–the Pawn as sacrificial lambs to be led to the slaughter just to achieve victory and kill masses along the way. For others, chess might be seen as a good activity for kids to develop good traits in study, determined goal setting, exercising brainpower in terms of decisions needing to be made, judgments in analzying situations met, pattern recognition so beneficial in various occupations, and most important–the wise use of  time. Both of these arguments for and against contain a bit of truth and the game pieces themselves,  because they are mute objects symbolic of such power that in minature may equal enormous destructive force on the battlefield of 64 squares, cannot voice any dissent either way.

Thus I look elsewhere to determine what sources and personages might give sway on the subject. In the 20th Century, the liberal Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis made this point: “It is not good for us that we should lose the fighting quality, the courage and power to protect our rights. We shall have lost something vital and beyond price on the day when the State denies us the right to resort to force…”  Sarah Brady, a voice for gun control, noted that to her the only reason for guns in civilian hands is for sporting purposes. Jim Brady, her husband shot in the attack on President Reagan stated: “For the defense of the home; that is why we have police departments.” Is he for real? Police can defend families in their homes when under invasion by criminals? Criminals applaud such statements. In chess we have the aggressor and the defender. The right and duty as I see boils down to the right to protect our love of self, family, and to this act of defense relates directly to chess as well as life in the preservation of one’s own life or family and the blunting of such attack or killing of the aggressor bent on murder of your household. In basketball as well as many other sports, we find that the best defense is a strong offense especially if coupled with good defense to bring victory. Such victory might be achieved by either or by both. The famous chess teacher and player, Dr. S. Tarrasch, once noted that chess, like love, like music, has the power to make men happy.

There exists in the above statement by the parental concern of shielding her family from even the thought of a symbolic war game of stifling the qualities that make chess the game it is and to curtail or destroy because of ignorance and narrowmindedness of the subject shortchanging loved ones from experiencing those values that practical results have tended to support over time.

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