The Art in Chess

The California Chess REPORTER Vol. 1 No. 9, April 1952

Rhythm, Harmony, Timing, all have their place in chess just as in music. And the characteristics manifested in the artist are not unlike those found in the true lover of chess.

The young novice starting out on his musical career goes through the usual strenuous routine of mastering the prescribed fundamentals. It is a long, hard struggle. But eventually he arrives at a certain stage where he undergoes a strange change. He sees his work in a different light. His lessons are no longer a task. He has learned to appreciate the beauty of music, the value of art. He needs no coaxing - the music attracts him, fascinates him. He is not content with what he has learned, for this is only the beginning. He must learn more and more. He searches hungrily for new and more difficult roads to success. And as he climbs each step, he stops to survey, pauses to inspect, to iron out flaws, and polish to perfection. Finally, he emerges a musician and artist. His work now has an individual touch. Others copy from him. And his name and masterpieces become immortal in the halls of fame.

So too in chess. At first, it is just another game. Some dabble in it a while, but not long enough to discover its mysterious charms, which are carefully hidden from the casual observer. Chess is like a flower: It demands attention, work, cultivation. Chess belongs to the curious, who love to delve and to pry, to explore regions unknown, to discover what others have overlooked. And as the amateur player begins to feel the thrills, his game begins to take on a deeper meaning. It ceases to be an ordinary game. It no longer is played for relaxation, nor to pass away the time. It becomes, rather, a challenge to the mind and to the imagination. He must explore, he must conquer. The dull routine of life has suddenly changed - a new horizon has appeared. He has something new to live for. A thirst has been created, and he seeks to satisfy it. He must learn more: The hidden traps, the art of sacrifice, the significance of position, the technique. And finally, like the artist, he acquires poise, finesse, personality. He is no longer a mere manipulator of pieces. His moves are radiant with meaning. His men are handled with the skill of precision of Raphael's brush. He strives to make his games as flawless as the painting of the Madonna, or the statue of Venus.

Such is the nature of chess, which will live as long as Art exists, for chess is art.

by Bernard Madrid, Riverside, California

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