Monday, March 05, 2007

Playing to Win

Yesterday we pondered the nature of chess.

In Playing to Win, Plaskett considers whether chess might be art, science or sport or perhaps some combination of all three.

In fact, science and art are dismissed fairly swiftly. In the case of the former, chess is considered too trivial to qualify. As far as the players who claim to be artists go... well Plaskett cites the inherent competitive nature of the game and suggests any artistic value occurs as a secondary outcome. He also points to the low proportion of any games that might qualify as artistic.

Plaskett gives sport more consideration. Although he rejects the traditional arguments against chess being considered a sport (insufficiently competitive or physical) ultimately he too comes down against the notion of chess as sport. For Plaskett, the growing importance of opening theory (and remember he was writing in the late 1980s prior to ubiquitous use of computers) negates any claims for chess as sport.

His argument is roughly as follows. One side, particularly if they have a "Decisive Opening Innovation" up their sleeve, may start with a theoretical advantage that means the other player is not taking part in an equal contest. According to Plaskett, this is different to the technical advantages possessed by certain teams in Yachting or Formula 1 although I have to confess the reasons why this should be so escape me. In any event, the argument runs, because chess doesn't always start as a fair fight it can't be considered a sport.

I wonder how Plaskett’s views have changed over the past 20 years. In particular, what does he make of the idea of “mind sport” or this petition?


Getting back to Plaskett’s book, after his essay on chess he publishes 15 of his own games. My favourite is the one he played against Short in the Banja Luka tournament of 1985. Look out for the Knight sac on move 14. In the notes, Jimbo says, “Two pawns, a1 – h8 diagonal, central armada ready to roll … looked good to me, but it was only after a fair deal of post mortem analysis that Short’s skepticism abated.”




3 comments:

Anonymous said...

nice game haven't heard of this player before (alexey hurricane)

Tom Chivers said...

I'm even more skeptical over Plaskett's theory about chess than over his sacrifice in that game.

bhattathiri said...

Chess is originated in India. The Indian origin of the game of chess is supported even by the Encylopedia Britannica according to which, "About 1783-89 Sir. William Jones, in an essay published in the 2nd Vol. of Asiatic Researches, argued that Hindustan was the cradle of chess, the game having been known there from time immemorial by the name Chaturanga, that is, the four angas, or members of an army, which are said in the Amarakosha (an ancient Indian Dictionary - S.B.) to be elephants, horses, chariots and foot soldiers. As applicable to real armies, the term Chaturanga is frequently used by the epic poets of India. Sir William Jones' essay is substantially a translation of the Bhawishya Purana, in which is given a description of a four-handed game of chess played with dice." "Sir William, however, grounds his opinions as to the Hindu origin of chess upon the testimony of the Persians and not upon the above manuscript," He lays it down that chess, under the Sanskrit name Chaturanga was exported from India into Persia in the 6th century of our era; that by a natural corruption, the old Persians changed the name into chatrang; but when their country was soon afterwards taken possession of by the Arabs, who had neither the initial nor the final letter of the The Indian origin of the game of chess is supported even by the Encylopedia Britannica according to which, "About 1783-89 Sir. William Jones, in an essay published in the 2nd Vol. of Asiatic Researches, argued that Hindustan was the cradle of chess, the game having been known there from time immemorial by the name Chaturanga, that is, the four angas, or members of an army, which are said in the Amarakosha (an ancient Indian Dictionary - S.B.) to be elephants, horses, chariots and foot soldiers. As applicable to real armies, the term Chaturanga is frequently used by the epic poets of India. Sir William Jones' essay is substantially a translation of the Bhawishya Purana, in which is given a description of a four-handed game of chess played with dice." "Sir William, however, grounds his opinions as to the Hindu origin of chess upon the testimony of the Persians and not upon the above manuscript," He lays it down that chess, under the Sanskrit name Chaturanga was exported from India into Persia in the 6th century of our era; that by a natural corruption, the old Persians changed the name into chatrang; but when their country was soon afterwards taken possession of by the Arabs, who had neither the initial nor the final letter of the word in their alphabet, they altered it further into Shatranj, which name found its way presently into modern Persian and ultimately into the dialects of India."

word in their alphabet, they altered it further into Shatranj, which name found its way presently into modern Persian and ultimately into the dialects of India." The great Mahabharata War is the result of Chess. There Srimad Bhagavd Gita originated in the battlefied preached by Lord krishna to motivate Arjuna to do his duty as a warrior.
H.J.R. Murry in his monumental work A History of Chess, comes to the conclusion that chess is a descendant of an Indian game played in the 7th century."
It was from India that the ancient Persians are said to have learnt this game, and from them it was transmitted to the Greco Roman world. The evidence of the Persians having borrowed this game from India is seen in the name the Persians gave to it. The Persian word for chess is Chatrang, which was later changed by the Arabs to Shatranj. As said in Encyclopedia Britannica, thig word is obviously a corruption of the Sanskrit original Chaturanga.
Ref.www.orientalia.org/article346.html