Why I Play Chess

A post about chess.

Why I Play Chess

Chess is a game that is centuries old, originating in western Europe in the 1400s. But it is currently played every day by thousands of people across the world. Chess is usually introduced to kids as another game to play. And while kids play lots of games - current fad and fashion, as well as local customs and backgrounds, influence which games are introduced to kids.

But Chess isn't like most games. I've played lots of games - they were a staple of my childhood. But only Chess has captured my attention for decades and still is something I play almost daily. And I'm not alone! The following are why I feel chess is different from other games, and why it is still one of the most popular games after over 800 years since its creation:

  1. Chess is "infinite" - well, at least for us humans. There are more possible legal games of chess than grains of sands on every beach in the world. Chess isn't something you can solve, or perfect - the immense depth of the game means that there is always a new challenge awaiting you.
  2. Chess is a contest with complete information. The pieces are visible on the board - nothing hidden or left to chance. You don't outplay your opponent for the entire game only to have them get lucky and roll double-sixes and escape with a win at the last minute. This makes Chess the ultimate "fair game" - your opponent doesn't get better cards, or better rolls.
  3. Whoever plays the game better, wins. Luck is not part of the game. There is no reason, other than your lack of ability, for not winning a game.
  4. There are swindles, surprises, things that happen that you don't expect. At least for us mere mortals, with an incomplete ability to foresee all that is to come, there is a feeling of suspense for most of the game of "what will happen?" There is always an unknown future that requires you to find a path to reach success.
  5. Knowledge is power. You can study chess, and learn ways to play that can give you an advantage over others. A notation system devised for chess makes it possible to review games that have already been played and study the strategies and tactics the players used. This is possible because a notation system has been devised, and games between great players of the past have been recorded and made available for anyone to review. Thousands of books on chess have been published, and cover all aspects of the game.
  6. Competition is something that is a core part of me - always striving to be better, and attempting to better my friends, is a key driver for what I do.