There is an excellent review article on the greatest board game here. One could talk about the relationship between chess and its mini-version, life, for ever of course, but here are a few quotes from Sally Feldman’s article.
First, a depressing one, from the front line:
The event [the Iraq Chess Federation’s annual tournament] was especially significant since the influential Shia clergyman Grand Ayatollah Sistani had only just announced his belief that chess should be “absolutely forbidden”. And this is in the country where the modern game is believed to have originated – at the court of the Caliph Haroun al-Rashid in Baghdad ten centuries ago.
Then, an inconvenient truth: most of the best players have been Jewish. The article looks for a deterministic solution:
One explanation might be that chess is a remarkably adaptable, portable game, and therefore well suited to the dispossessed, the exile, the refugee, the prisoner.
But there are plenty of those around the world, so I prefer a more obvious answer, Jews are smarter than the rest of us, at least when it comes to chess.
Then there is this nice little anecdote:
John McVicar, the former train robber, recalled that when he was in prison he always looked forward to the conviction of tax evaders, spies and financial fraudsters, because they’d give a better game of chess.
Indeed. I’ll add a little of story of my own, which is that a couple of nights ago some friends and I were discussing the late film director, Stanley Kubrick. When I looked him up, I found that:
Kubrick's father taught him chess at age twelve; the game remained a life-long obsession…. [while in his teens] Kubrick supplemented his income playing "chess for quarters" in Washington Square Park and in various Manhattan chess clubs.
Funnily enough, Frayed and I stayed in Washington Square last Christmas and she bought me “Chessica”, a computer chess game (she’s not IBM’s Deep Blue, but she can easily dispose of me) from one of those same clubs).
Anyway, if you have an interest in the wonderful game of chess, do have a look at the article (and pay a visit to Washington Square one day).