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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.
The passion for playing chess is one of the most unaccountable in the world. It slaps the theory of natural selection in the face. It is the most absorbing of occupations. The least satisfying of desires. A nameless excrescence upon life. It annihilates a man. You have, let us say, a promising politician, a rising artist that you wish to destroy. Dagger or bomb are archaic and unreliable - but teach him, inoculate him with chess.
The chess board is the world, the pieces are the phenomena of the universe, the rules of the game are what we call the laws of Nature. The player on the other side is hidden from us. We know that his play is always fair, just, and patient. But also we know, to our cost, that he never overlooks a mistake, or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance.
The art is French, but the ideas may have come from anywhere, like the game of chess which the pilgrims or crusaders brought home from Syria. In the oriental game, the King was followed step by step by a Minister whose functions were personal. The crusaders freed the piece from control; gave it liberty to move up or down or diagonally, forwards and backwards; made it the most arbitrary and formidable champion on the board, while the King and the Knight were the most restricted in movement; and this piece they named Queen and called the Virgin.
The wisdom of the chess player is displayed more in winning over a capable opponent than a novice. The wisdom of the general is displayed more in defeating a superior army than in subduing an inferior one. Even more so, the wisdom of God is displayed when He brings good to us and glory to Himself out of confusion and calamity rather than out of pleasant times.
Someone finally understood all the hell that I'd been through since a child when I'd first tried to understand language. And yet in other forms of communications, like painting, sculpture, music, math, problem-solving, and chess, I'd been very good. In fact, in high school, once I learned how to play chess, I'd play lightning-fast, intuitively seeing all these different possibilities at the same time, and I'd won well over a hundred chess games without losing a single game. And that included beating some of our faculty members who thought that they were very good at chess.
When I am trying to understand the method of winning in the endgame with two bishops against the knight, chess is a science, when I admire a beautiful combination or study, then chess is art, and when I am complicating position in the approaching time trouble of my opponent, then chess is sport.