Not all chess matches have had a happy, sportsmanlike end.Does chess encourage violence or discourage it? It may not be a leisure activity of refinement and erudition that many outsiders hold the image of it to be. In fact the archetype may be less genteel than is generally thought. Medieval chess passions ran so high that the players often came to blows, and there are authenticated as well as fictional cases of chess mayhem:
In the Liddell´s romance (Charlemagne cycle) “Chessmen” a pertinent story is quoted which concerns Berthelot, a nephew of Charlemagne. Berthelot calls on Renaud de Montauban to play chess. He quarrels with him and hits him in the face, whereupon Renaud takes up the chessboard of “massy gold” and kills Berthelot.
According to the same story, Renaud de Monauban was involved in another affair in which chess equipment served as an instrument of death. He held Richard, Duke of Normandy, prisoner and sent his men to fetch him to the scaffold. They found him playing chess with Renaud´s son Yvonet and try to lay hands on him when he refused to leave the game to be hanged. He then killed one with his Queen, one with a Rook and a third with a Bishop. The rest fled, and the duke calmly invited Yvonet to finish the game. ( Edward Lasker )
“Chess is violence. Chess is about unilaterally imposing your will on another human being, while he tries desperately to avoid having your will impose. And if you fail, his will will crush yours. Some might argue that all two-opponent games could be tarred with this same brush of “violence”. But no other voluntary game presents such a distilled essence of violence,… Violence is about will power. With physical violence, the body is simply an instrument of the will. In fact, wrestling could be seen as half cooperative dance, and half violence. Boxing is much closer to pure violence. And chess is pure violence – all that is preserved is the ruthless wills locked in combat. To become great at chess, you need brute force mental capability and extreme will power and concentration. Your killer instinct and desire to crush the opponent needs to be strong and sustained over much longer periods than in the typical physical confrontation. There is a reason that chess is physically exhausting, and that chess masters often go mad…. ( Joshua, Lower Wisdom )
In an age of magicians it was only natural that they should cast their spells over the game, and there seemed to be a lot of chessboards on which it was sheer folly to be the challenger. King Arthur’s Sir Gawain encountered one such set in a spooky castle where the hall was arranged as a chessboard and the chessmen-life sized- apparently moved by themselves when touched by a magic ring. ( Richard Barber )
The magician Guynebans, according to legend, created for himself a clever board of gold and silver, together with ivory pieces so arranged that ” there should be none but that the chesse should him maten whether he would or not.” Every serious chess player since then has wanted to find this magical chess set as if it were the holy grail of chess. If this set is still in existence , its pieces may be among the enchanted chessmen from the Isle of Lewis. Its all conjecture of course, until someone happens to stumble upon the board.
..And it chanced on a day that John and Fulk were alone in a chamber playing at the chess. And John seized the chessboard, and
gave Fulk a heavy blow. And Fulk felt himself hurt, and he raised his foot, and kicked John in the chest, so that his head struck against the wall, and he became all powerless, and fell down senseless….villains, clad in coarse and ill-favoured tabards, and each had in his hand a great staff, hard and strong. And when Fulk saw them, he had suspicion of evil design. And the six villains entered a chamber, and they put off their tabards, and dressed them in a green stuff, and shoes broidered with gold, and in all things they were as richly attired as any king could be. And they came back to the hall, and saluted Sir Fulk and his companions, and they asked of them to play
the chess with them, and there was brought to them a very rich chessboard, with chessmen in fine gold and silver.
And Sir William played a game, but soon did he lose it. And Sir John played another, and quickly was it lost. And Philip, and Alan, and Baldwin, and Audulf, one after the other, played a game, and each one lost his. Then said one of the fiercest of the shepherds to Fulk, ” Will you play ? ” ” No,” said he. ” By my faith,” said the shepherd, ” you shall play or wrestle in spite of yourself.” ” By my faith,wretched villain of a shepherd,” said Fulk, ” in that do you lie, but if so it be that I must wrestle or play in spite of myself, I will play with you after the manner that I have learnt.” And he sprang up, and drew his sword, and struck him so that his head flew into the midst of the place, and then another, and then a third, until that Fulk and his comrades had slain all the vile
“Chess is thirty to forty percent psychology. You don’t have this when you play a computer. I can’t confuse it” (Judith Polgar)…“You sit at the board and suddenly your heart leaps. Your hand trembles to pick up the piece and move it. But what Chess teaches you is that you must sit there calmly and think about whether it’s really a good idea and whether there are other better ideas” (Stanley Kubrick)…“Of all my Russian books, the defense contains and diffuses the greatest ‘warmth’ which may seem odd seeing how supremely abstract Chess is supposed to be” (Vladimir Nabokov)…“Avoid the crowd. Do your own thinking independently. Be the Chess player, not the Chess piece” (Ralph Charell)