Why play chess?
Like many individual sports, chess is actually very social. If you play chess you will find
yourself having endless chats about how to get better, how to use interesting moves to win and how
to play with strategy. The St. Patrick’s Chess club meets once a week on Tuesday and is scheduled to
play in competitions. We are lucky this year to have April Cronin as the Chess Tutor for the school.
April is a retired Principal and one of the best players in the country. Not only does she teach our
students but she instructs teachers across the country how to play and how to integrate chess into
their schools. Every Tuesday the students learn fascinating ways to get closer to delivering the
knockout blow of checkmate. It’s a fun way to spend the lunch break and a privilege to be able to
consult an expert on how to improve.
The social aspect of chess is interesting. In many ways it is an international language. The
game is played in cafés in Paris, by the sides of pools in Spain and in Bray restaurants. It’s a great
way to make new friends particularly from other countries. The game is so popular globally that
billions play. You could find yourself playing a game on your travel set in the park beside the
cathedral or on holidays with some new friends you have met.
Chess competitions are some of the most exciting events you could attend. There’s always a
great buzz at the venue and it’s a fun day out. You get to spend the day with your friends on your
team. If you start to go regularly to tournaments you will see the same faces every time. When
you’re playing against the clock and the minutes are ticking down the tension is incredible and you
can find a win from nowhere. Watching competition games are compelling as the players bash the
buttons on the tops of their clocks in an attempt to preserve those all important seconds. If you like
to travel, there are many international tournaments every year. Chess tournaments used to be
televised on mainstream tv and when they were there were few more exciting events that you could
watch. A few years back a series of games between the great Garry Kasparov and Nigel Short were
expertly covered by Channel Four. Every day was unmissable as the two players tried to outwit each
other. The mind games were outrageous and here Kasparov started to get the upper hand by letting
his opponent know the intense physical training he was doing to keep sharp for the matches. One of
the things which eventually broke Nigel Short was Kasparov bragging about how many lengths of the
pool he did every day to keep his posture strong in the chair while making his moves.
After his victory, Kasparov released the book, How Life Imitates Chess. Everyone should
read it. In it he explains that strategy is important in life as well as in chess. Think about it.
Everyone wants to move up the board and everyone wants to get better. Chess will help you to do
One way to apply this to life might be thinking about your first job. It might not be exactly
what you want, but it’s a move nevertheless, and after a few moves you might arrive at the position
which you want to achieve. Chess teaches us not to think only about what we are doing but to plan
ahead as well. It helps us to chose wisely because each action is not isolated but part of a series or a
strategy which can help us to get places.