Chess is a very old game of strategy, which has origins in India and is an icon of intelligence and concentration. The game itself is nearly a thousand years old and has been a noble tradition for many centuries, spreading across Asia and migrating to the European aristocracy. In the modern age chess has become a highly competitive international sport, but does it still carry the same credentials when it comes to being the ultimate strategic duel of intelligence and concentration? For centuries, chess, backgammon and checkers have been popular ways to challenge each others abilities, but since we are now well into a new age I am wondering, have they been replaced as the most testing of our strategic abilities?
At one time the various pieces represented a miniature version of a kingdom, kings, queens, knights, bishops, castles and of course pawns. Times have changed and we now create and play games that are miniature versions of today's world. Games are made in the image of war, where the commander marshals troops, tanks, battleships and aircraft into battle. There are fewer conventions in modern games then there are in Chess. Chess is a game which has rules and etiquette, war clearly doesn't.
Aside from computer games, what else may have contributed to the mortality of 'the great game'? Once upon a time, chess was a game which was enjoyed by the noble class, and being a game which involves using your intelligence in a confrontational manner, it meant it was a taboo for most women, yet a test for men as future leaders. There certainly are many gifted women chess players today though, the current world champion and Grandmaster Alexandra Kostenuik, a 24 year old Russian who is both extremely talented and beautiful. She is the 12th Women's World Champion since the title was created in 1927. It is however STILL a game which is favoured by men.
In a world of equality then, chess is guilty of history when it comes to being tried as 'the great game'. There is a tirade which seems to fade the prestige of chess, which has to do with a whole new range of perceptions available in the modern age. Opinions being that such masters of the game are singularly focussed, that it only measures a person's dedication to the game, rather than the ability to lead an army into battle as it once did. There are modern variations, 3d chess, hexagonal chess, but the motions seem to indicate that chess as 'the great game' is almost at the end of its heyday, since there are just too many criticisms as to why it isn't such a big deal then there are as to why it is.
I personally love a casual game of chess. I find it to be engaging, whether winning our losing, since it draws out a part of us which is both combative, pensive and just a little bit witty. I don't always when win, but that is ok, I'm not a grandmaster (yet), it is about the spirit of the game and getting to know a bit more about your opponent if the game is a friendly. Chess is a fabulous past time, but is it still the number one test of strategic ability? There are many things which point to no, but I am open to suggestion.
At the moment the Australian Open Chess Tournament is happening in Canberra, I'm tempted to start training so I can bump heads with a few of Australia's best players in a year or two. For now though, I'm just a beginner, off to join my local chess club for social games and small tournaments. It is still one of my favourite past times.