Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Scientific Analysis of Chess + An Original Prize

From a humorous article by Prof. Isaac Bernbloom, at the time (1963) the head of the experimental biology department in the Weizmann Institute, Rehovot, Israel (originally published in Rehovot, the Institute's journal, reprinted in Sa'chmat, Yarchon Israeli le'Sachmat, year 2 no. 4 [Nov. 1963] p. 18:

'Medically, chess is a relaxant, since it prevents the person from working for hours on end. It is also an antidepressant, since it gives the person an excuse not to feel guilty for their laziness. It is a sport: one can sprain one's wrist when trying to castle in a difficult position.

'A chess player needs imagination, so as to find barely credible excuses for his wife as to why he's late for dinner again. He needs to be daring, in order to find the local chess club in a dangerous neighborhood in a strange city as a tourist. He needs agression, in order to keep kibitzing loudly in the club until someone takes pity on the disturbed players and asks him to play. Finally, he needs patience, in order to fight to the bitter end in a lost position, to his opponent's, and the observers', obvious displeasure.

'Finally, a problem which I composed recently:

'White to play and win. Anybody who sends me the correct solution will win an honorary appointment as the local club's annoying kibitzer.'

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