Kasparov on Aggression

I’m reading Garry Kasparov’s new book, How Life Imitates Chess, and am intrigued by his remarks about aggression. (Aggressive is a word often used to describe not only Kasparov’s playing style but his personality, too.)  Kasparov, arguably the greatest player in the history of chess, writes about a trip abroad, at the age of seventeen, when he was a member of the Soviet Olympiad Chess team.  On a stopover in Rome, his teammates–who were on average twice his age–visited the Vatican while young Kasparov went instead to watch a movie that wasn’t showing back in the Soviet Union, namely “The Empire Strikes Back.”  Kasparov writes that he didn’t exactly agree with Yoda’s warning Luke Skywalker that “anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they.”

Kasparov’s points out the double standard we have about aggression.  In chess and football, we praise decisive, attacking play, but in political and social life we condemn it.  Moreover, in some domains, whether we praise or condemn such behavior depends on a person’s rank: “We praise a CEO’s management style as aggressive, but the average employee could be fired for being ‘aggressive.'”

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