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The History and The Culture of Chess

Chess in the Press - Issue #5
    May  2006

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Volume 1 Number 5 CHESS IN THE PRESS June 22, 1993
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No One Ever Knew

The Chess in the Press Research Project dredges up another batch of chess
articles that were printed in magazines no one ever heard of and no one
read in the first place and no one would have ever known about were it not
for the Herculean efforts of the Research Team. In this issue: The Navajo
Nation; Helicopter combat; Famous Arabs; Ivanchuk's nerves; Ecosystems;
Inner-city youths; Make your own outdoor sets.


"Chess Project Helps Hub's Inner-City Youth." Palmer, Jasmine. Bay State
Banner (May 14, 1992), p. 15.
In an attempt to counter gang violence and drug abuse, Dr. Michael Charney
has trained over 200 youth workers, teachers, correctional staff, and
volunteers to teach chess to students in various cities. "The Games Project--
Chess Makes Kids Smart" fosters strategic thinking in a healthy atmosphere.
Daryl Wright, chess advisor at the Codman Square Library in Dorchester, said,
"The program has been a real success. It's very popular with the kids. I
have heard a lot of positive feedback from parents about their kids'
concentration improving both in and outside of school. There is a discipline
involved as well. The rules need to be followed." Chess allows the kids,
aged 8 to 12, to be competitive in a way that no one gets hurt. The project
was based on successful programs in other parts of the country, the Raging
Rooks of Harlem and the Bad Bishops of Philadelphia among them. Boston
police officer Steve Johnson said, "I tell my kids that this is a game that
ladies and gentlemen play, you don't throw pieces down when you get angry,
you reason."
The Boston Society of Architects constructed a giant chess set in front
of the Boston Public Library's Copley Square Branch, in honor of the BSA
National Convention. Half the pieces represented historic Boston buildings,
and the other half, newer buildings.

"Keeping the Game Alive." Historic Preservation (Jan-Feb 1993), p. 11.
The Boston Society of Architects and the Games Project/Chess Makes Kids
Smart group co-sponsored a competition to design a giant outdoor chess set,
which was won by Jude LeBlanc, an assistant professor at Harvard. The pieces
have multiple uses: kings, queens, and bishops are also children's chairs
with different style backs; knights are rocking horses; rooks are fortresses;
and the pawns are themselves small chessboards. The set is designed to be
constructed for under $1,000.

"A Chess Analogy: Teaching the Role of Animals in Ecosystems." Kangas,
Patrick. American Biology Teacher (Mar 1988), p. 160-162.
Chess is used as an analogy with ecology, and to examine the relationship
between information and context. Students were divided into two groups and
each group was given chess pieces to describe. Their descriptions were then
compared. Each group used different kinds of information, depending on their
knowledge level of the game: one group knew how to play chess, the other
group didn't. Then the students were asked to describe animals instead of
chess pieces. Finally, the information used to describe animals and their
ecology was classified. Using chess can be useful if the analogy provides
reinforcement for less familiar ideas and concepts.

"One-on-One Helicopter Combat Simulated by Chess-Type Lookahead." Katz,
Amnon and Arthur Ross. Journal of Aircraft (Feb 1991), p. 156-160.
Presents the results of a computer simulation of an air combat logic
based on a chess-type lookahead technique. The combatants selected among
11 maneuvers, including straight and level flight, acceleration, and
deceleration. The resulting game tree was used to compute scores. Kill in
the air combat tree is probabilistic, rather than deterministic, as in chess.
The results indicate that the lookahead is a viable approach for air combat.
The timing can be accommodated by imbedded microprocessors, and therefore
the technique is ripe for use in real time simulation.

"Chess--An Arab Gift to the World." Qaisi, Zuhair Ahmad. Ur (Mar-Apr 1979),
p. 45-50.
The Iraqi government has devoted time and money to the Arabic chess
tradition by collecting and illuminating ancient manuscripts. Charlemagne
received an elaborate chess set from the Baghdad Caliph Haroun al-Rashid,
which is now in the Musee Nationale in Paris. Haroun's successor, al-Amin
was killed due to chess: he was engrossed in a game while his brother
al-Mamun was beseiging the city. In those days chess players enjoyed much
social and cultural status. The Caliph al-Mutasim invented a chess problem
called "mansouba" in 840a.d.--perhaps the first ever. The present-day Souli
Chess Club in Baghdad was named for the most famous of all Islamic-Arab
chess players: Muhammad ibn Yahya al-Souli, who wrote several influential
chess books. The poet Ibn al-Hubariya al-Hashimi of Baghdad wrote a long
poem on chess in which he recorded the political and military events he
witnessed during the battle for the Abbasid Caliphate between the Buwaihid
sultans and the Seljuq Turks in the time of the Caliph al-Qadir. Two blind
players were noted for their invincibility: the poet-philosopher Abul Ala
al-Maarri, and the poet Aladdin Ibn Qairan.

"Identity Affirmation Through Leisure Activities: Leisure Symbols of the
Self." Haggard, Lois and Daniel Williams. Journal of Leisure Research
(First Quarter 1992), p. 1-18.
Various leisure activities, including chess, are examined to determine
the nature of leisure activity images. Results point to the explanation
that leisure activities symbolize identity images that may be viewed as
motivational forces for participation in a specific activity, such as chess.

"(People's Cognition of One Another in Interpersonal Conflict, Using the
Example of Chess Game Activity.") Krogius, Nikolai. Psikologicheskii
Zhurnal (Mar-Apr 1984), p. 54-61.
During a chess game, seizing the psychological initiative depends on the
ability to discern the not fully conscious activity style of the opponent.
The subjects' perceptions of each other during chess play were analyzed,
including facial expressions, style of activity, and other behavioral
characteristics exhibited during high conflict situations. [In Russian.]

"He Reminds One of Fischer." Fedorov, Vladimir and Dmitry Plisetsky.
New Times (1991), p. 48.
Some comments on the unusual nature of Vassily Ivanchuk. His coach Felix
Levin said, "Often he doesn't even look at the board--the pieces simply
distract him." Ivanchuk has natural talents and is unpredictable in his
play. Former trainer Mikhail Nekrasov said, "His psychological make-up and
perceptions of the world are extremely unusual. Occasionally Vassily
becomes so engrossed with himself that he doesn't even notice people standing
next to him."

"Rope Trick." Keene, Raymond. The Spectator (Nov 28, 1992), p. 68.
Vassily Ivanchuk is probably the most talented player in the world, but
his chief weakness is an excessively nervous disposition. This has resulted
in a number of disappointments and explains his eccentricities during
competition. "In some tournaments Ivanchuk has been known to bang gongs
during the rounds, or run into the street and start to screech at passers-
by, while at Linares 1990 he had to be given a sedative before his last
round game against Gelfand before it was even possible to bring him to the
board." Keene believes nerve problems cost Ivanchuk his match against Anand.

"Before the Warrior." Robie, David. Island Business Pacific (Jan 1, 1987),
p. 25.
The former head of the French secret service, Count Alexandre de Marenches,
sat playing chess with French journalist Jean Larteguy. The Count discussed
his shadowy political chess moves with the Paris-Match reporter. The
magazine was highlighting the revelations in the Count's book, "Inside: the
Secret of Princes," updated in 1992 as "The Fourth World War."

"Court's `Eyesore' Street Jester Beats Loitering Ticket." Kocieniewski,
David. Detroit News (Aug 9, 1989), p. B3.
Charlie Campbell was a flamboyant lawyer in Detroit who was given a ticket
for loitering near a police station. Campbell spent a lot of his time out on
the street, offering legal advice, chess lessons, and religious instruction.
He won his own case against the ticket.

"Met Kids: Living With Style--And Children." Hellman, Peter. Metropolitan
Home (Mar 1991), p. 67-79+.
Homes with rooms designed just for children are profiled, and one room is
based on a chess theme: pawn bedposts, a knight sculpture that holds up the
sleeping loft, and a wooden rook on the closet door converts to a support
for a Murphy bed. Sheltering a desk beneath the sleeping loft saves space
and is also more fun: "Adults gravitate to big spaces. Kids get more comfort
from smaller spaces. For them, the best space is one that adults find
uncomfortably cramped."

"Playing with Plumbing." Crosby, Bill. Sunset (Aug 1992), p. 98-99.
How to make your own outdoor, oversized chess set using common plumbing
materials and concrete pavers. You may need to visit your local plumbing
supply store for one or two of the parts, but the entire set with board
can be built for about $350. The board is 8- by 8-feet. List of needed
supplies and dimensions for the pieces.

"Why Not Chess in the Garden?" Sunset (July 1963), p. 74-76.
How to construct a garden chess set, as made by the Sunset staff. List
of materials, dimensions, etc. Photographs of several different types of
designs for the boards and chessmen.

"Diana Lanni: Chess Champion with a Checkered Past." Duffy, Pat. Ms.
(Jan 1984), p. 20.
Once ranked among the top five women chess players in the US, chess
provided Lanni with order and logic to combat the chaos of her personal
life. She left home early to escape domestic turmoil, working as a topless
dancer, then as a prostitute. Almost out of money, she decided to drive to
a women's chess tournament in Michigan, and won. She felt "real self-esteem
for the first time in my life." Her problems continued due to her dependency
on drugs. She wound up at Bellevue Hospital in New York to work out her
problems which had led her to the brink of suicide. On New Year's Eve, 1980,
she walked out of the hospital and ended up at the Chess Center in New York
where she found a room and a job. Since then, she has spent most of her time
playing chess. [Lanni is rated 2027 on the 1992 USCF Annual Ratings List.]

"If Indians Win, Change the Rules." Trahant, Mark. Navajo Nation Today
(Nov 5, 1991), p. 6.
The Tuba City High School Chess Team in Arizona had won the state title
two years in a row, and were gunning for a threepeat. Tuba City is part of
the Navajo Nation. The Arizona Interscholastic Association wanted to
change a rule that states that the defending champion hosts the next year's
tournament. The Association thought it was a good rule when Phoenix Valley
teams won every year, but when Tuba City started to win, "or should we
say it? Dominate the event, then the problems of winter travel became a
danger for high school students." Tuba City chess coach John Nesbitt said,
"To me it is quite clear that their motivations are selfish. They may state
that they are concerned about northern travel during the winter months...
yet their real concern is saving money for their own districts." The
students at Tuba City have earned the honor of hosting the state
championship, and the rule should be followed. "Anything less is a clear
double-standard--one rule for Phoenix and another rule for the Navajo

NEXT ISSUE: Mongolian Lamas; Psychologists review Idle Passion; Writing
fiction; Nicolas Rossolimo; Morphy's alleged shoe fetish disputed.

Editor: Stephen Leary []
Chess in the Press is cross-posted to Chess-L on Bitnet & RGC on Usenet.
Back issues are available via anonymous ftp at:
in the path: /pub/chess/uploads/texts/ChessInThePress.

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Chess History is a Pain!
Girl Chess I
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Franklin's Morales of Chess Pandolfini's Comandments
Six Chess Vignettes
Fischer's 10 Greatest
My Life as a Chess Criminal Celebrities Playing Chess
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Morphy's Brilliant Moves
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