Thursday, April 02, 2009

Chess Culture

Let's talk about "chess culture" for a bit. I think the first time I read this phrase was in a Kasparov annotation of one his games (I can't remember exactly which one). At that time I didn't really think much of it. But lately I've been wondering: what exactly is chess culture? Never mind what Kasparov meant, what does it mean to you?

Of course, we probably have to start off with the concept of "culture" itself. And here we run into our first problem. According to Wikipedia, for instance, the concept is "difficult to define". Over on CARLA (the Univ. of Minnesota's Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition), they have no less than 10 definitions from various sources!

I bring this up because yesterday I met some young fellow named Clive. I mention the name in particular because he happens to be of Chinese parentage and I couldn't help myself asking him: "dude, your Asian parents gave you a name like Clive?" Anyway, that's beside the point. The important thing about Clive is that he is an honourable young bloke and, apparently, well-educated!

When someone else in our group yesterday recited the quote: "On the chessboard, lies and hypocrisy do not survive long. The creative combination lays bare the presumption of a lie; the merciless fact, culminating in a checkmate, contradicts the hypocrite", Clive knew exactly who said it. In the back of my mind I had only one reaction. My God, I thought, this young punk's got chess culture!

You see, I was under the impression that these young chessers these days only worry about opening theory. It turns out, I might be wrong. And I'm happy with that.


Ryan said...

I would tend to agree with your original belief regarding the narrowness of some (especially young) players' interest in chess.

Chess 'culture' is something which raises the game above other games.

Anonymous said...

australia has zero chess culture.

australian players make up for lack of culture by studying stupid opening books on the fried liver attack and bickering about nonsense and chess politics, which makes them feel important.

Denis Jessop said...


Has it occurred to you that the line

"I met some young fellow named Clive"

would be a very good opener for a limerick.

Perhaps "anonymous" who is one of your most prolific contributors could complete it for our edification.


Ted Teodoro said...

First of all, about the name, my son's name is Buzz. His parents are Filipino. His fellow Americans have not questioned his name at all in relation to his race. Only Filipinos have asked why he was named Buzz. Now, I ask them, why should they expect every Filipino to be named Pedro, Juan or Jose.

I don't know about " chess culture. " It sounds like they meant chess literacy.