Nov

27

Bronstein once complained to me about how today’s players lacked the responsibility of his generation. Indeed chess was bound up with ideological considerations during the era of Soviet domination, the leading Soviet GMs being representatives of the state, examples to the masses. Even before this the game was imbued with meaning as Steinitz, Tarrasch and others debated points of strategy on the board, their own struggle reflecting a larger battle in the war of ideas. Players were said to have founded ’schools’ and felt obliged to write books expressing their ideas, something which these days would be laughable.

Now there is no ideological battle, no war of ideas, just the game as a ’sport’. So if a single player tries to perfect his game, without writing books or teaching, is he serving no broader purpose, giving nothing back? Actually I would argue that the act of self improvement will inevitably bring benefits to the world at large as it changes the way we are, how we interact with others and in doing so has a knock-on effect. Perhaps this game is ’smaller’ than in the days of Steinitz or Botvinnik, but it is nonetheless there.

One of my goals is to write a good chess book, for what I believe to be similar reasons that Ken feels compelled to play a bigger game and the chair has written books and founded the speclist. But I wouldn’t call it ’social justice’, it is something else.

 


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