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Life's too short for chess. ~ Henry James Byron
On the chessboard lies and hypocrisy do not survive long. The creative combination lays bare the presumption of a lie; the merciless fact, culminating in a checkmate, contradicts the hypocrite. ~ Emanuel Lasker

Chess is a recreational and competitive board game played on a square chequered chessboard with 64 squares arranged in an eight-by-eight square between two players who each control sixteen pieces.


  • Even given boats, chess, music, the No Drama, beautiful women and beautiful spectroscopes, life could get heavy.
  • A friendship across sectarian lines is not a common phenomenon, in his experience. In the past, it has struck him that, apart from homosexuals, only chess players have found a reliable way to bridge, intensely but without fatal violence, the gulf that separates any given pair of men.
  • Fancy what a game at chess would be if all the chessmen had passions and intellects, more or less small and cunning; if you were not only uncertain about your adversary's men, but a little uncertain also about your own; if your knight could shuffle himself on to a new square by the sly; if your bishop, in disgust at your castling, could wheedle your pawns out of their places; and if your pawns, hating you because they are pawns, could make away from their appointed posts that you might get checkmate on a sudden. You might be the longest-headed of deducted reasoners, and yet you might be beaten by your own pawns. You would be especially likely to be beaten, if you depended arrogantly on your mathematical imagination, and regarded your passionate pieces with contempt.
    Yet this imaginary chess is easy compared with the game a man has to play against his fellow-men with other fellow-men for his instruments. He thinks himself sagacious, perhaps, because he trusts no bond except that of self-interest; but the only self-interest he can safely rely on is what seems to be such to the mind he would use or govern. Can he ever be sure of knowing this?
  • "It's a useful mental exercise. Through the years, many thinkers have been fascinated by it. But I don't enjoy playing... Because it was a game that was born during a brutal age when life counted for little. Everyone believed that some people were worth more than others. Kings. Pawns. I don't think that anyone is worth more than anyone else... Chess is just a game. Real people are not pieces. You can't assign more value to some of them and not others. Not to me. Not to anyone. People are not a thing that you can sacrifice. The lesson is, if anyone who looks on to the world as if it is a game of chess, deserves to lose. "
  • You know I'm finished with the old chess because it's all just a lot of book and memorization you know.
  • In chess so much depends on opening theory, so the champions before the last century did not know as much as I do and other players do about opening theory. So if you just brought them back from the dead they wouldn't do well. They'd get bad openings. You cannot compare the playing strength, you can only talk about natural ability. Memorization is enormously powerful. Some kid of fourteen today, or even younger, could get an opening advantage against Capablanca, and especially against the players of the previous century, like Morphy and Steinitz. Maybe they would still be able to outplay the young kid of today. Or maybe not, because nowadays when you get the opening advantage not only do you get the opening advantage, you know how to play, they have so many examples of what to do from this position. It is really deadly, and that is why I don't like chess any more.
  • [Capablanca] wanted to change the rules already, back in the twenties, because he said chess was getting played out. He was right. Now chess is completely dead. It is all just memorization and prearrangement. It’s a terrible game now. Very uncreative.
  • 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...
  • [C]hess is not a game for dictators for numerous reasons. One, it's transparent. It’s all information hundred percent available so you know exactly what you have, you know exactly what your opponent has. You don’t know what he or she is thinking, but you definitely know what kind of resources your opponent can use to hurt you, to damage your position. Also, chess is very much a strategic game so you have to think long-term. Dictators don’t think long-term. Dictators, especially who are in power for so long as Putin is, they have to work on the survival mode. Because it’s all about today, maybe tomorrow morning. Everything that helps us survive is good. Because the moment the dictator thinks long-term, he’ll definitely miss guys from his own entourage hitting him in his own back. The game that defines dictators much better is poker because it’s about bluffs. It doesn’t matter whether you have a strong hand or weak hand. You can have a weak hand, but if you’re comfortable bluffing, raising stakes, and if you can read your opponent.
  • Chess is so characteristic a product of the legacy of Islam that it deserves more than a passing mention. Modern European chess is the direct descendant of an ancient Indian game, adopted by the Persians, handed on by them to the Muslim world, and finally borrowed from Islam by Christian Europe.
    • Arnold, Legacy of Islam, p.32, citing H.J.R. Murrary, A History of Chess, Oxford, 1913. Quoted from Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 1
  • This loss of interest, hair, and enterprise—
    Ah, if the game were poker, yes,
    You might discard them, draw a full house!
    But it's chess.
  • On the chessboard lies and hypocrisy do not survive long. The creative combination lays bare the presumption of a lie; the merciless fact, culminating in a checkmate, contradicts the hypocrite.
  • “You are not the first to be shocked and horrified by chess,” he assured her. “It is a curse of the intellect. It is a game for lunatics—or else it creates them.”
    • Fritz Leiber, The 64-Square Madhouse (originally published in If magazine, May 1962)
  • It [chess] is not only the most delightful and scientific, but the most moral of amusements.
    • Paul Morphy as quoted in Testimonials to Paul Morphy: Presented at University Hall, New York, May 25, 1859
  • It [chess] is eminently and emphatically the philosopher's game.
    • Paul Morphy as quoted in Testimonials to Paul Morphy: Presented at University Hall, New York, May 25, 1859
  • Let the chessboard supercede the card table, and a great improvement will be visible in the morals of the community.
    • Paul Morphy as quoted in Testimonials to Paul Morphy: Presented at University Hall, New York, May 25, 1859
  • I am more strongly confirmed than ever in the belief that the time devoted to chess is literally frittered away. It is, to be sure, a most exhilarating sport, but it is only a sport; and it is not to be wondered at that such as have been passionately addicted to the charming pastime should one day ask themselves whether sober reason does not advise its utter dereliction.
  • The Lord: The game of chess is like a sword fight. You must think first, before you move.
  • Chess is a game by its form, an art by its content and a science by the difficulty of gaining mastery in it. Chess can convey as much happiness as a good book or work of music can. However, it is necessary to learn to play well and only afterwards will one experience real delight."
  • I'm absolutely convinced that in chess - although it remains a game - there is nothing accidental. And this is my credo. I like only those chess games, in which I have played in accordance with the position requirements... I believe only in logical and right game.
  • Yet to calculate is not in itself to analyse. A chess-player, for example, does the one without effort at the other. It follows that the game of chess, in its effects upon mental character, is greatly misunderstood. I [...] assert that the higher powers of the reflective intellect are more decidedly and more usefully tasked by the unostentatious game of draughts than by all the elaborate frivolity of chess. In this latter, where the pieces have different and bizarre motions, with various and variable values, what is only complex is mistaken (a not unusual error) for what is profound. The attention is here called powerfully into play. If it flag for an instant, an oversight is committed, resulting in injury or defeat. The possible moves being not only manifold but involute, the chances of such oversights are multiplied; and in nine cases out of ten it is the more concentrative rather than the more acute player who conquers.
  • My life was in crisis. All my values were becoming meaningless. I was discovering that my chosen profession was empty, foolish, as useless as—as playing chess.
    • Robert Silverberg, Schwartz Between the Galaxies (originally published in Stellar 1, 1975)
  • Shall we play Bezique? Or Nightjack? I’ve cards, or chess if you prefer, but I’ve always found chess to be a bit too much like real life to provide much enjoyment as a game.
    • Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland, For a Little While (originally published at, July 27, 2011)
  • Ludimus effigiem belli, simulataque veris
    Praelia, buxo acies fictas, et ludicra regna,
    Ut gemini inter se reges albusque, nigerque
    Pro laude oppositi certent bicoloribus armis.
    • I sing the form of war, the bloodless plain,
      Armies of ivory, and a mock campaign;
      How two bold kings in different armour veil'd,
      One black, one white, for conquest fought the field.
      • Marco Girolamo Vida, Scacchia Ludus (1527) [Game of Chess], opening lines. Compare: "Of armies on the chequer'd field array'd,/ And guiltless war in pleasing form display'd;/ When two bold kings contend with vain alarms,/ In ivory this, and that in ebon arms;" William Jones, Caïssa; Or, The Game of Chess.
  • [The queen] sits at the top of the high places above the city. She is restless and determined. She girds her loins with strength. Her feet stay not in her house. She moves in every direction and into every corner. Her evolutions are wonderful, her spirit untiring. How comely are her footsteps as she moves diagonally, one step after another, from square to square!
    • c. 12th century Spanish Hebrew text, attributed to Bonsenior ibn Yehia (quoted in Marilyn Yalom, The Birth of the Chess Queen, pp. 54-55)

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