Chess – a classic that never dies

photo credit: JustABoy

photo credit: JustABoy

Chess has been invented thousands of years ago but it has never gone out of style. That’s because it’s a very well-built game that require skill, patience and technique to play successfully. In addition to this, it can be played by anyone, regardless of age, sex or location. Chess has always been considered the “thinking man’s” game. A single chess game can go on for hours. It improves attention, analytical and strategical thinking. In ancient times it was a game that was played only by kings. Nowadays, there are no restrictions and virtually anyone can pick up a chessboard and play. Great men of the past such as Napoleon, Einstein, Nikola Tesla and others have been known to be proficient at chess.

Chess requires a chessboard and the pieces for each side – black and white. If you prefer video games, you can of course forego these requirements. However nothing beats a classic game of chess with your opponent in front of you. The main goal of the game is to capture your opponent’s King. Every move you make should be structured around this goal. If you’ve ever played checkers then you are already familiar with the chess board. It’s an 8 by 8 board with squares that alternate between black and white. There are 32 pieces in total, 16 for each side. The pieces are: a King, a Queen, 2 Rooks, 2 Bishops, 2 Knights and 8 pawns. Each piece has a specific place on the board. Each piece has it’s own specific move and the players take turns, beginning with the White player who opens the game and followed by the Black’s move.

To memorize and record the movements on the chessboard for posterity, an algebraic notation system has been invented. Put simply, each horizontal line is called a rank, while each vertical one is called a file. Viewing the board from the White side, the first file on the left has the letter “a” assigned to it. The next one “b” and so on until the 8th file is reached which ends at “h”. The ranks are numbered, so it goes from 1 to 8, starting from the White player’s side and going all the way up to the Black. This system of notation makes it very easy to record how each piece is moved. Beginners are advised to memorize a number of openings in order to optimize their chances of winning. Later on, they will be able to devise their own strategies, but as in every thing, you begin by studying the rules and conventions before you can break them.

While Chess may not provide the same feel for action and instant gratification as a video game like Counter Strike would for example, it develops skills that are more useful than a trigger-finger. Attention, intelligence and abstract thinking cannot be taught with games that are all style and no-substance. To adapt an old saying, “the roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.”