Thursday, December 30, 2004

Chess, Personality and Madness revisited

In my post on Chess, Personality and Madness, I posed the hypothesis that "Playing chess doesn't turn one into a 'difficult case', but rather 'difficult cases' are more likely to be attracted to chess." Richard Feynmann offers his take:
I have to say I completely agree when taking myself as the entire population. I am a difficult case. I speak my mind with disregard for the consequences (I'm usually aware that what I say is controversial but don't normally care), I have little time for the needs of others and am generally considered to be inconsiderate ... all charges to which I plead guilty ... it sounds arrogant to admit that I have these faults and to then follow it up by saying "I don't care" but I really don't care as I have no interest in spending my time tiptoeing around people ... I barely have enough time for my interests as it is! So in answer to DG's question ... I'd say yes difficult cases are attracted to chess and I think the reason is that you have to be difficult to get anywhere as chess absorbs life for those who get seriously involved!

Those who know the grip it takes once you get involved in the game know that the rest of life pales into insignificance ... and I think one reason why it's only difficult people who get that far is that difficult people tend to have unfulfilling personal lives and thus have little to counter the appeal of chess. Again referring to my own case I plead guilty to that ... I had friends at one point, I had a social life, I had hope for my career ... now all I want to do is study weak squares ...
See also "Watch Richard Feynmann go mad - Live!".

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