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He [Nicolae Ceaușescu] was a hard man who really wanted to win, all the time. He wanted to win at chess. It's well known that in chess when you touch a piece, you've got to move it. That's in the rules. But Ceausescu would touch a piece and see that it was a bad move and say, "No, no, wait, wait. I haven't thought long enough."
Unlike every other product that is now manufactured for the table, wine exists in as many varieties as there are people who produce it. Variations in technique, climate, grape, soil and culture ensure that wine is, to the ordinary drinker, the most unpredictable of drinks, and to the connoisseur the most intricately informative, responding to its origins like a game of chess to its opening move.
I collected 599 pictures of Elizabeth Taylor — some people find that obsessive. I collected 599. Not 600, but 599. I feel that genius and obsession be the same thing. It is rare when a woman is driven by obsession. Similarly, it is rare when a woman is a genius. That's why I said one of my most notorious sentences, that there is no woman Mozart because there is no woman Jack the Ripper. Men are more prone to obsession because they are fleeing domination by women. They flee to a chess game or to a computer or to fixing a car, or whatever, to attempt to complete their identities, because they always feel incomplete.
The Soviet pre-eminence in chess can be traced to the average Russian's readiness to brood obsessively over anything, even the arrangement of some pieces of wood. Indeed, the Russians' predisposition for quiet reflection followed by sudden preventive action explains why they led the field for many years in both chess and ax murders.
Too many times, people don't try their best. They don't have the keen spirit; the winning spirit. And once you make it you've got to guard your reputation - every day go in like an unknown to prove yourself. That's why I don't clown around. I don't believe in wasting time. My goal is to win the World Chess Championship; to beat the Russians. I take this very seriously.
Work, as we usually think of it, is energy expended for a further end in view; play is energy expended for its own sake, as with children's play, or as manifestation of the end or goal of work, as in "playing" chess or the piano. Play in this sense, then, is the fulfillment of work, the exhibition of what the work has been done for.
Visual thinking is often driven more strongly by the conceptual knowledge we use to organize our images than by the contents of the images themselves. Chess masters are known for their remarkable memory for the pieces on a chessboard. But it's not because people with photographic memories become chess masters. The masters are no better than beginners when remembering a board of randomly arranged pieces. Their memory captures meaningful relations among the pieces, such as threats and defenses, not just their distribution in space.
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.
Having spent a lifetime analyzing the game of chess and comparing the capacity of computers to the capacity of the human brain, I've often wondered, where does our success come from? The answer is synthesis, the ability to combine creativity and calculation, art and science, into a whole that is much greater than the sum of its parts. Chess is a unique cognitive nexus, a place where art and science come together in the human mind, and are then refined and improved by experience.