Chess has history, huge support, and a deep Impact of current culture. A love of chess spans across the world and across generations, Chess is in a way a language that can bring people together and give people a universal skill to become closer by playing and learning. I maintain communication with my dad, have made friends and even become close with a teacher because I enjoyed playing chess with that person. Chess is such a positive in my life and can be a positive in any person’s life. It’s not too late to learn and unlike when I spend time binge watching a series on Netflix or when I spend way too much time playing an app or video game I know I’m never wasting time playing chess and its making me a better and sharper person. When two people play a game of chess each player no matter the outcome becomes better and pushes the other person. You need to visualize predict and execute the strategy that you believe will fit against your opponent but maintain a dynamic open mind because you know the competitor has his or her own plan to beat you. If you win then your plan worked and you have learned and gotten better from the game and the opposite losing allows you to learn and grow even more. After a blow out or close loss it stays with you, I think about… I need to defend better, I put my king in danger, I moved pieces with no purpose, I can’t just focus on material so much(getting your opponents pieces), I can’t believe I fell for a sneak attack, etc. Every time I lose I see a new flaw in my game and work on it. More than studying more than watching videos but playing someone better than you is the best way to improve your chess game. I have gotten frustrated but with chess I never give up because the more you play the better you get. This is very apparent in chess because I can mentally think about the lessons I’m learning when I lose and see the results as I have slowly begun to hold my own and now beat my dad in some games, but in other aspects of life the results sometimes cannot be seen and losing hurts much more than a living room game of chess. I have been deterred from school, relationships, athletics, and many other aspects of life from a failure. Failure hurts but with chess I slow down and think about the positives and know that I am learning. It shows things I need to work on and with this understanding I have become a better and happier person. I love chess and I am an extreme advocate for the positives it can bring to a person’s life. Instead of playing angry birds for 12 hours straight, why not try chess! If you have an open mind, anyone can learn to love it.
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Chess is a game that you technically could play with a piece of paper, a pencil, and each player using different objects around your house or your dorm as long as you can remember which each piece is and what each piece does. Despite no real requirement or use of appearance in the game of chess most chess sets and each individual chess piece has a pretty similar look, with a few exceptions like novelty sets which there are countless options for shows, movies, and theme based boards like the Mario themed board below and image of the Ralph Lauren chess set that is on sale for only $3496.50.
The standard chess set is known as the vaunted Staunton Chess set. Shane’s description of these pieces are..
King: with a cross on the top and it’s the tallest
Queen: smaller than king spikey crown
Bishop: almost a mouth on the top of its head that resembles the pope’s hat
Knight: THIS ONE IS IMPORTANT! THE KNIGHT LOOKS LIKE A HORSE. THE KNIGHT IS NOT CALLED A HORSE. IT IS CALLED THE KNIGHT.
Rook: looks like a pillar of a castle
Pawn: simplest and smallest piece with a ball on the top of it.
Before 1849 there was no “normal Chess set”, chess had been played for a few centuries now and amazing amounts of sets of pieces were created from the different regions and areas that played chess that spread across the world. In the early 11th century the game saw a rapid growth in popularity in Europe and the rules began to evolve, the movement of the pieces were formalized, and the pieces themselves were transformed from their origins in 6th century India. In India the game symbolized a field of battle but this was changed in Europe and the pieces became the royal court instead, shown with the transformation of names from counselor, infantry, cavalry, elephants, and chariots, that became king, queen, pawn, knight, bishop, and rook. With growing globalization along with growing popularity of clubs and competitions around the world in the 19th century, the need was created for a standard set that everyone would be familiar with. The Staunton chess pieces filled that need; Howard Staunton was a chess authority and one of the best players in the world at the time that organized many tournaments and clubs in London, despite the name he did not design it. Staunton was only used as a marketing tool because he liked the design of these pieces. It’s believed to be have been designed by an architect that looked at all the popular sets of the time along with design influences of London and ruins of ancient Greece and Rome and made the blue print of the pieces we have today. The Staunton chessmen helped popularize the game and quickly became the world standard, for two hundred years now this is the set used around the world and I am predicting that there will be no changes made anytime soon.
There are few things as intellectually exciting as sitting across the table from a chess player who you match in ability, making that first move and then hitting the button on the chess clock. It is over the board with the clock counting down and all the potential moves before you that the true dynamics of chess reveal itself. A quick search of the Internet will allow you to find, tournament speed chess, with a commentators talking like every move they made is a knock out punch to the opponent and an excitement as if they are at a horse race. In speed chess your position on the board matters, but time is always a factor. Playing over the board you are very aware that no matter how far ahead you get in material, the clock can cause you to lose a game as quickly as a missed check mate opportunity. The rules of speed chess are extremely simple; if you touch a piece you must move it. You must stop the clock with the same hand you use to move the piece. As soon as your opponent hits the clock to stop the time, your time begins to count down. If your time runs out, no matter how far ahead you think you are in the game, you lose. With speed chess you always feel pressure to get your move completed as soon as you can. Even a ten second pause to calculate a move can feel like a huge time difference if you have twenty seconds left and your opponent has thirty. You constantly feel the tension building as you come closer and closer to running out of time. To be proficient in speed chess you must have a plan and be always thinking. You need to know what you are doing, what your opponent is doing and always have an understanding that if you aren’t focused at all times your plan will become flawed or you will miss a better opening. Speed chess is strange that it more is your overall chess understanding ability and instincts compared to the original slow game where someone can spend however long they want thinking over every possible move. Chess over the Internet offers everyone a chance to increase his or her abilities by offering quality chess game whenever and wherever a person wants to play, any missed moves I learn from and can increase my understand that will benefit me in the more advanced speed chess. Speed chess played over the board is personal, you shake hands with your opponent all quick thinking an quick action, if your lose your concentration for a second it can throw your whole game off. Speed chess also offers the chance to have the pressure relieved as soon as the final move is made. Speed chess is a sprint not a marathon, but the rules remain the same and you can have a 50 plus move game in less than three minutes. Winning this is fun and rewarding, playing it is stressful and exciting, but losing speed chess is just the worst. You can’t think back very clearly and go over every move you made you just have to know that the person in front of you beat you because he or she were able to make less mistakes and capitalize on openings in a crunch. Speed chess is very fun and a big part of why I love chess.
Chess has been used as a brain-developing game for all ages. ADHD is a rampant issue especially in recent times and playing chess at an early age has been shown to help this issue greatly. ADHD is a cultural phenomenon and is apart of every parent of young kids today. Every overly hyper kid is a potentially has ADHD. This is a very real issue for some kids, and the diagnosis rate has increased greatly in the country, but playing chess at a young age has shown signs of helping. There is still a matter of debate whether ADHD is actually a harmful ‘disease’, or merely a natural process that occurs during the phases of maturity. According to a research by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of children with an ADHD diagnosis continues to increase, from 7.8% in 2003 to 9.5% in 2007 and to 11.0% in 2011. The high rate of ADHD diagnosis is a matter of concern for parents and teachers, as is the consumption of mind-altering prescription pills and drugs by children with not a full understanding of the consequences, in terms of health and behavioral changes. These concerns with the long-term effects of medication on children have led to a ‘no-drug’, therapy-based treatment for ADHD. An article published in The Nature Journal focused on “Brain activity in chess playing” and shed some light on how Chess activates critical areas of the brain involved in visual processing, memory, planning, and judgment, and how it activates both the left and the right hemisphere of the brain. If ADHD affects parts of the brain associated with thinking, paying attention, and planning, as the National Institute of Mental Health says it does, the effect of Chess on ADHD kids is a viable research option. Chess is a game that requires focus and is an easy game to focus on for along period of time for kids and adults alike. During a chess game, a large amount of concentration, attention, and focus is required to achieve victory. One small mistake may ruin the chances of success, so players have to be attentive and focused on their next move as well as that of their opponent. It’s clear how chess can help people suffering from ADHD; by playing the game, people are forced to pay attention or they lose. This instant punishment/reward pattern is a proven way to improve any skill, because players would rather pay attention and win, than lose their focus and lose the game.
I, like anyone, have struggled with a reading assignment that I was not interested in at all and continually got distracted, but this has not happened with a game of chess and I am often amazed at the amount of time I am able to focus on the board for. If only the focus I can bring to chess was the same I brought to my blogs.
As my Communication Arts and Sciences class begins working on a paradigm shift as a research topic I thought that I should give insight into a major paradigm shift in the chess world that occurred in the last half of the nineteen hundreds. Chess computers have become amazingly advanced and skilled, an app you download on to your smart phone or laptop for free has the ability to beat a chess master. Chess computers are now used as training and studying tools, they have brought a new factor in chess that tournaments and officials now must be cautious that people aren’t cheating with chess computers during matches. This has even made a new discipline of chess where there is a world chess computer championship.
In 1769, Baron Wolfgang von Kempelen built a chess-playing machine for the amusement of the Austrian Queen at the time (picture of the puppet like machine below). Later revealed to be a hoax with someone actually making the moves for the machine this was still the original attempt at making a computer, machine or device that is capable of playing chess. Making a chess computer is very an extremely daunting task. My very very basic knowledge of computers allows me to understand that computers run off of stored data and with a game like chess that has unlimited possibilities of moves and games it amazes me how advanced the computers have become. Many chess enthusiasts believed that computers would never be able to adapt well enough to play the game’s many possible outcomes, and would never be able to beat the world’s best. Until Deep Blue, a chess-playing computer developed by IBM. Deep blue is known for being the first piece of “artificial intelligence” to win both a chess game (game is just one game like in tennis) and a chess match (match is a sum results of many games again like tennis) against a reigning world champion. Deep Blue won its first game against a world champion on February 10, 1996, when it defeated Garry Kasparov in game one of a six-game match. However, Kasparov won a majority of the games defeating program in the overall match. Deep Blue was then heavily upgraded, and played Kasparov again in May 1997 where Deep Blue was able to beat the world chess champion and show the public that computers will take over the world of chess. Garry Kasparov was not happy with this result and requested a rematch but was denied one. After a computer defeated the world champion the impact of these machines began to kick in for the chess world, chess rules stayed the same but man was no longer dominant over machine in this ancient complex game of deep strategy and mental endurance.
The movie Pawn Sacrifice is likely to spur a new interest in chess, and it is likely spark questions about if delving too deeply into the world of chess is it likely to drive others to the same level of madness that it drove Bobby Fischer? The movie also attempts to delve into the culture importance of the game to the Russians, and for a brief time the importance of the game to the world. The movie depicts the struggles Bobby Fischer and others ran into when trying to compete against the Russians in the game that is such a big part of their national pride. In Chess the only piece that matters is the king and everything about the game revolves around protecting your king and attacking your opponent. A player gives no concern for sacrificing piece for the sake of his game plan, The Russian communist state gives no concern for individual people of the state for the sake of the overall country. In Chess and Politics, people are left to struggle with all the potential moves while fully considering the negative side of each move. Russians wanted to be the best and America wanted to beat them, whether it was the Olympics, a race to put a man on the moon, or anything. For a very long time Russians did not want to be the best in chess because Russian masters were dominating the chess world, and extremely proud of it. With the extreme rivalry between the U.S. and Russia and the emergence of a Brooklyn chess prodigy Bobby Fischer, the whole country became huge chess fans in support of this guy from Brooklyn against the whole Soviet Union. Bobby Fischer was an extremely eccentric individual. The extreme media attention and high pressure did not go well with his personality. Bobby did beat the Russians, became the world number one, but soon entered a spiral down and went legitimately crazy. Interestingly,there is actually a pretty long history of chess geniuses going crazy, but my opinion is Chess does not drive a person crazy, but it is the type of game that a crazy person can be driven to enjoy. You have to be crazy to spend the amount of time you need looking at a board game to master it, and you need to be crazy if you want to understand the vastness of chess. Bobby Fischer, a Jewish kid from New York, was not ready for the metal strain and pressure that would come with being a world chess icon and he ended up losing sight of who he is. This story of Bobby is amazingly interesting and I really suggest going to see the movie Pawn sacrifice or looking up a documentary on bobby when you get a chance.
Lebron James, Michael Phelps, Tom Brady, Magnus Carlsen. All of the athletes I just listed are the best at what they do. Every name there is very recognizable for the sport the athlete takes part in. Lebron James is the best in the world at basketball, Michael Phelps is swimming, and many consider Tom Brady the best at football. The only name that you may not know is Magnus Carlsen, the best chess player in the world. A major difference between Magnus Carlsen and the rest of the athletes I listed is that there is no argument can be made that Magnus is not the best in the world. He has been a celebrity in the chess world since the age of 10 and became the world number one at the age of 19. He is often called “the Mozart of chess” and he is a perfect example of a savant. At the age of 5 he could name every country, the country’s capital city, and its population. He started with chess due to sibling rivalry, seeing his sister play motivated him to beat her, and he soon did. His chess skill continued to increase and began competing at the age of eight in tournaments. Becoming an International Master in 2003 when he was 13, Carlsen was given a year off from elementary school to participate in international chess tournaments. The sacrifice of a year off turned out to be a great investment, he is now world number one in every category of chess, which would be like Michael Phelps getting a gold in every swimming event possible. The life of a chess savant is stressful and surprisingly lucrative, he has his own personal app, which you can pay to upgrade, which I did (only app I’ve ever purchased), he has many endorsements, gets paid to enter tournaments because of the crowd that he brings, and he even does modeling. This Norwegian super star he even dated Liv Tyler, the drop-dead gorgeous daughter of international rock star Stephen Tyler. On live TV he beat bill gates, an avid chess player, in 15 seconds. Mark Zuckerberg, founder of face book has sought out him for chess tips to improve his game. He is an international chess sensation and on an amazing piece done on him by 60 minutes (link below, if you have a free 15 minutes I really recommend it) when asked, “how do you do it” he has no idea what to say, he explains it just comes natural to him. He loves chess and something about it just clicks in his brain, just like Mozart. He has no average brain though, he can play 10 chess games at the same time turned away from the board, That is 320 pieces he has locked in his brain for an extended period of time with no falter. He has old games played by other masters from the past locked in his head that he can draw from while playing, If you show him a piece set up he can tell you who played it, were it was played, who won, and roughly when it was played. The things he does “defy Chess” as Bob Simon put it in his 60 minutes interview. Magnus Carlsen is not only amazing to a chess fan. The things he does, the publicity he brings to the chess would, and his amazing talent continue to amaze the chess community and many believe he still has not tapped his full potential.
60 minutes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qc_v9mTfhC8
Chess is not just the pieces, its not just winning and losing, and its defiantly not just some game you play to pass the time. It is proven to raise your IQ, increase your creativity. It improves memory, problem-solving skills, concentration, and not to mention studies show playing chess prevents Alzheimer’s disease and other deteriorating brain diseases. The reasoning involved in understanding chess is especially useful to help mold young minds to their highest potential. America’s Foundation for Chess (AF4C) has being working with elementary school students and their teachers to showcase chess as a learning tool. This programs goal hopes to “use the game of chess as a tool, to increase higher level thinking skills, advanced math and reading skills, and build self-confidence.”
Many studies, and my personal experience, have shown chess to have an extreme impact on kids of all ages. The AF4C views 2nd to 3rd graders as being the ideal age. Eight and nine year-old minds and thinking skills are developing rapidly, and chess teaches things such as the ability to visualize, analyze, and think creatively.
“If you teach an adult to play chess, they quickly comprehend where they should and shouldn’t move pieces to capture or avoid capture. Young Kate knew the names of the pieces and how they moved, but initially moved her pieces randomly. Soon she was saying, “If I move my piece here, you could capture it, right? Then I’m not going to move there.” You can almost see the mental changes taking place”(Fischer).
The schools that implement this program do nothing but rave about the impact it brings with it. It also doubles not only as gym for your brain but a social game that brings people together. A principal of one of the schools stated “We have 34 different languages spoken at our school, and chess is now the one we have in common.” I can’t image the game of chess reaching every 2nd and 3rd grader that they try to teach it to but the kids that it does reach show amazing benefits from it. I strongly support the idea of teaching chess to kids, it is a life tool, and will teach you lessons deeper than just chess. The chessboard teaches the idea of a grid as each piece and move can be thought of as a sequence and each square has a different coordinate. Since each piece has different value to the game it teaches economic ideas of marginal benefit and cost. It even gives kids an introduction to ties of history with all of the pieces (pawn, queen, king, bishop, knight, rook) having symbolic ties to the hierarchy of an early society. It also helps to build confidence. A big kid that dominates in gym class has no advantage over anyone else in chess. A bully can’t argue with the rules of chess and can’t avoid getting his ego hurt by a kid kicking his butt on a chessboard. It is a total equal playing field that can teach the value hard work and practice. I love chess the benefits it brings are amazing. I am and will continue to be an outspoken supporter of the benefits of chess.
Fischer, Wendi. “Educational Value of Chess.” Johns Hopkins School of Education. July 2006. Web. 18 Sept. 2015. <http://education.jhu.edu/PD/newhorizons/strategies/topics/thinking-skills/chess/>.
My English teacher for senior year of high school was the head of our undefeated regular season chess team, and I was already in no way a rookie player, I understood basic openings, traps, middle game, and end game moves, but I wanted nothing more than to beat him. I began to play chess with my dad, a very good chess player and who is in no way humble about it. I practiced everyday, I read about chess, I studied the world champions’ chess matches and watch lessons and continued to practice with my dad and anyone else willing to play me. I got chess fever and it has continued to stick with me, even after I beat My English teacher in chess, which I did! And was in no way modest about it to anyone. In fact I proceeded to tweet that I beat him immediately after it happened.
Chess keeps my brain sharp. It puts my life in perspective and makes me understand how to find other options and to understand I should think about what other people are doing. One small missed detail and it could ruin the forty-five minutes of focus you have had in trying to find your best strategy. There is nothing worse than making a chess move that you know just ruined your whole game, or being overconfident and missing a detail and lose because of one mistake, but no matter how much I lose, how much my ego gets a huge bruise from my dad, or how often I just get plain aggravated with chess, I never step away from an hours worth of playing and think “wow I could have been doing something much more productive”. The same English teacher I talked about earlier is a very eccentric man, he is known for not having a T.V., smoking cigarettes before and after school, and everyone assumes he lives in a cabin by himself in the woods, but he was discussing chess with some girls in my English class one day and explained how when he was young he over looked chess never thought it was not that great. Then a few years ago a friend of his told him that he and his father have trouble communicating with each other, but have absolutely no problem sitting at a chess board and playing chess for hours, so he decided to give chess another shot and it is now one of his biggest interests. Chess brings people together, it is a universal game, and I love everything about it. Millions around the world and most way more than me have caught this “chess fever” that I referred to. Amazing amounts of books published and keep getting published. Tons of fascinating documentaries on YouTube and even HBO continue to find interest from the public, and also a movie trailer has just been released portraying the amazing life of histories most well known chess player, Bobby Fisher, who I will probably bring up many times throughout this blog. The film is called Pawn Sacrifice with big times actors such as Tobey Maguire who is starring as the main character Bobby Fischer. I will not be discussing small details of the chess game or strategy because that will go over most people’s heads, but I will be going over the impact it has on people, culture, my family and me. Everyone has something to gain from chess and I hope to influence anyone reading this blog to give chess a second look!