Sunday, June 08, 2003

Sunday mornings provide a nice quiet opportunity to study chess. I find it an absorbing and relaxing pastime and have no aspirations to play in tournaments or gain a club norm. A schoolboy interest in the game waned until a couple of years ago when I was alerted by the fact that there was a theory going around that keen chess players rarely developed Altzheimers Disease. They may suffer mental exhaustion and need psychiatric nursing but rarely suffer the brain degeneration that goes with Altzheimers. Having reached the age when I can go upstairs and be unable to remember why I did so I decided that the memory training that chess requires would be beneficial!

Playing chess also has a lot to do with pattern recognition when deciding what moves to play. This is not so far removed from painterly activity where the emerging pattern of marks and shapes influences where the brush is to be placed next. I read a lovely concise definition of art by Alfred North Whitehead which was; “Art is the imposition of pattern on experience, and our aesthetic enjoyment is recognition of this pattern.”

I discovered recently that Marcel Duchamp was a keen chess player and somebody has published a book of his games. He is quoted as saying; “From my close contact with artists and chess players I have come to the personal conclusion that while all artists are not chess players, all chess players are artists.” I like that and even today, when we all use Fritz on our laptops and GM’s are challenged to play tournaments against computers, intuition can often influence the moves top players make.

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