Friday, February 18, 2005

Chess IS a sport

The BCC Weblog enters new territory with the introduction of our first Guest Blogger. Many of you are already familiar with Howard Goldowsky from his pieces in Chess Horizons, ChessCafe, and other chess-related publications. In fact, Howard was the author of the interview with Michael De La Maza which Don posted awhile back.

Now, Howard has agreed to provide occasional posts for us. In his first piece, he challenges Dennis Monokroussos' position on whether is a sport. So, without further ado here's BCC Weblog Guest Blogger Howard Goldowsky:


Chess IS a sport

I would like to thank the kind DG and the Boylston Chess Club for giving me the opportunity to guest blog.

With all due respect to Dennis Monokroussos, I believe that chess is a sport. In my opinion, the sufficient requirements for any activity to be a sport is its practitioner's reliance on timing and pattern recognition. Most activities that are traditionally labeled as sports, the ones Monokroussos refers to, are physical in nature. But the physicality is only a by-product of the true developed skills, which are timing and pattern recognition. For example, a baseball player must train his brain to train his muscles to hit the pattern of 90 MPH curveball, a basketball player must train his brain to train his hands to dribble past the defensive patterns posed by a defender. In chess, we are constantly training our minds to recognize patterns and to time our moves right. This is what makes chess a sport. Based on this definition, chess can even be classified as a "purer" sport than the ones that require physical activity, because the muscles don't need to act as a "middleman".

A few years ago, I wrote a short story published at ChessCafe, titled, "Chess As a Sport", that includes many of these issues as its theme.

Unfortunately, most people, Monokroussos included, associate sports with some sort of physical exertion. In order to compromise with these people, I like to refer to chess as a "mental sport" or a "mind sport". This qualified definition should make everybody happy.

posted by Howard Goldowsky

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