Chess: An honest opinion

Chess.

A picture of a chess game. Courtesy of Chess.com

Is it dull to watch? For some, yes. Is it challenging to play correctly? For me, absolutely. Are the pieces cool? Depends on the set—a lot of sets are handcrafted and really cool. Some sets are based on Disney films and kind of suck. But one thing is certain when it comes to chess. Chess is definitely a sport.

Loyal fans of baseball, football and basketball line up for hours and sit shoulder to shoulder by the millions to watch their respective favorite players score in grandiose and exciting fashion. They color coordinate their clothing, scream, shout, chant, create rivalries, argue for generations about the teams they passionately love and hate. Why, I ask you, is the honorable sport of chess not included in that pantheon of aforementioned sports? Where is the love for the pawns and bishops? Where are the rook fan clubs? Is there no room for the highly strategic and absolutely riveting sport of chess in the hearts of this generation?

Chess has it all; tension, strategy, horses, a checkered field, portability, logic, agreeable silences between plays, and so much more. The playing of chess demands the highest mental exertion and the victories are won not because of brute strength or luck and an injury is impossible. Also, you don’t see chess players arrested for doping, because steroids aren’t exactly an option. It’s pure thought and every move is a calculation most could only dream of making.

Why, I ask you again, is chess in the shadows? Why will you be laughed at if you suggest that we all pile into the Buffalo Stadium and watch two of West Texas A&M University’s finest chess players face off in a match of that scared, millennia-old game of wits and tactic? Why is it so cool to throw an egg-shaped pigskin across a field, but not cool to slide a little wooden horse across a board? Why can a college student exempt from responsibilities to train for a basketball game and yet a chess player can’t miss a day of class to face off against his Russian rival?

Prejudice, I tell you; pure unadulterated disrespect. And it stems from the labels we assign to the esteemed sport itself. Chess is called a “game”. But you’ll never hear someone say they’re going to the “big game”, join their friends at a baseball diamond and refuse to call it a sport. But, oh how difficult it is to find a soul courageous enough to give the game of chess the respect it deserves and label it a sport.

I can bet you that you yourself have no idea whether or not WTAMU has a chess team, let alone a club. If you do, I applaud you, for you have sought out an outlet of culture, my friend. But this needs to change. The great sport of chess deserves its place in our canon of adored athletic pass-times. Because if we aren’t willing to call exerting your brain an act of athletics that is worth at least a little bit of praise, then how can we defend our nation’s societal values from the accusations that the mind holds no sway in American culture?

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