Chess and the Spiritual World

Bobby Fischer once said, “They’re all weak, all women. They’re stupid compared to men. They shouldn’t play chess, you know. They’re like beginners. They lose every single game against a man.”

The anthropologist Margaret Mead disagreed: “Women could be just as good at chess, but why would they want to be?”

Irina Krush, the newly crowned 2007 U.S. Women’s Champion, has a good answer: “I believe chess can bring me closer to the spiritual part of this world in a way that simple material stuff can’t.”

4 Responses to “Chess and the Spiritual World”

  1. Tom Panelas Says:

    I think I know what Irina is talking about. The beauty of chess at its best does evoke something transcendent. Though I’m about as secular as you can be and more of a chess fan than a player, I’ve come closest to suspecting the existence of a guiding intelligence in the world not when contemplating the biological complexity of species (which, it seems to me, is explained well by evolutionary theory) but when looking at some astonishing tactical combination—a queen sacrifice, let’s say, that is so brilliant and recondite it had to have been divinely inspired because no mere human could have discovered it him or herself.

    Doesn’t Irina’s remark remind you of Paul Erdös’ statement that elegant mathematical proofs are “right out of the [God’s] book”? Was Morphy’s game at the opera house any less divinely co-authored than Erdös’ work on the Prime Number Theorem? Could it be, paradoxically, that the secular arts—in which, I suspect, anyone reading this blog would include chess—are the path to transcendence?

  2. paulhoffman Says:

    Amen! I could not agree with you more, Tom. It’s a great point.

  3. Dagobert Peterson Says:

    Below is an interesting work that you might like (called Maps of Meaning):

  4. Deadest Draw But Knights Finally Rally « thepHtest Says:

    […] their first match in the U.S. Chess League. They whupped Seattle 3-0, with international masters Irina Krush and Jay Bonin scoring easy wins and Irina Zenyuk joining Hikaru in […]

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