Friday, August 24, 2012

An Afternoon of Chess

Do you remember playing chess with your father or grandfather as a kid? I do, and those memories are some of the best. I was a slow learner but after I caught on to the game I was constantly vying with my brothers for a chance to play against Dad.

Many of us no longer have a family member who recalls how to play chess but it was once a very common activity, especially among men. Much more than a pass-time, chess has been very influential from a political and historical perspective as you will discover if you read David Shenk’s The Immortal Game: A History of Chess, Or How 32 Carved Pieces on a Board Illuminated Our Understanding of War, Art, Science, and the Human Brain.

You might want to read a little about some of the great chess competitions of the past and for that I recommend Bobby Fischer Goes to War: The True Story of How the Soviets Lost the Most Extraordinary Chess Match of all time by David Edmonds and John Eidinow.  Or if you like trying to outsmart computers, read The Turk: The life and Times of the Famous Eighteenth-Century Chess-Playing Machine by Tom Standage.

To bring the game home to the present and find out how chess playing probably produced the first geeks read Game of Kings: A Year Among the Geeks, Oddballs, and Geniuses Who Make Up America’s Top High School Chess team by Michael Weinreb.

Chess strategies have useful parallels and applications in the conduct of business and daily life as you will see if you check out Bruce Pandolfini’s book Every Move Must have a Purpose: Strategies From Chess for Business and Life or Maurice Ashley’s Chess for Success: Using an Old Game to Build New Strengths in Children and Teens.

Chess has also inspired some interesting fiction. Teens might like Checkmate by Walter Dean Myers or The Eight by Katherine Neville.

When you are ready to plunge right into playing the game you can start with the U.S. Chess Federation’s Official Rules of Chess or, better yet, come join us at the library for an afternoon of chess at the library. Meetings are two Saturdays a month.  Call (540) 422-8500, ext. 6862 to reserve your place.

Jeanne @ Warrenton

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