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quotations about chess

Chess quote

In life, unlike chess, the game continues after checkmate.

ISAAC ASIMOV, Fantastic Voyage II

The Game of Chess is not merely an idle amusement; several very valuable qualities of the mind, useful in the course of human life, are to be acquired and strengthened by it, so as to become habits ready on all occasions; for life is a kind of Chess, in which we have often points to gain, and competitors or adversaries to contend with, and in which there is a vast variety of good and ill events, that are, in some degree, the effect of prudence, or the want of it. By playing at Chess then, we may learn: 1st, Foresight, which looks a little into futurity, and considers the consequences that may attend an action ... 2nd, Circumspection, which surveys the whole Chess-board, or scene of action: - the relation of the several Pieces, and their situations; ... 3rd, Caution, not to make our moves too hastily.

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, "The Morals of Chess"

The chess pieces are the block alphabet which shapes thoughts; and these thoughts, although making a visual design on the chess-board, express their beauty abstractly, like a poem.... I have come to the personal conclusion that while all artists are not chess players, all chess players are artists.

MARCEL DUCHAMP, speech, Aug. 30, 1952

Chess is ruthless: you’ve got to be prepared to kill people.

NIGEL SHORT, London Observer, Aug. 11, 1991

A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kick boxing.


Chess may be the deepest, least exhaustible of pastimes, but it is nothing more. As for a chess genius, he is a human being who focuses vast, little-understood mental gifts and labors on an ultimately trivial human enterprise.

GEORGE STEINER, Fields of Force

The game of chess. Supposedly men made it up, and it's about war and men and the ravages and the bravery and the genius of commanding and moving pieces and ... No. It's marriage. The Queen moves anywhere she wants.

BILL COSBY, Far from Finished

The chess-board is the world; the pieces are the phenomena of the universe; the rules of the game are what we call the laws of Nature. The player on the other side is hidden from us. We know that his play is always fair, just, and patient. But also we know, to our cost, that he never overlooks a mistake, or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance.

THOMAS HENRY HUXLEY, A Liberal Education

Chess is a foolish expedient for making idle people believe they are doing something very clever when they are only wasting their time.


Chess is war over the board. The object is to crush the opponent's mind.


Chess masters are known for their remarkable memory for the pieces on a chessboard. But it's not because people with photographic memories become chess masters. The masters are no better than beginners when remembering a board of randomly arranged pieces. Their memory captures meaningful relations among the pieces, such as threats and defenses, not just their distribution in space.

STEVEN PINKER, How the Mind Works

Life's too short for chess.


There are more adventures on a chessboard than on all the seas of the world.

PIERRE MACORLAN, attributed, Essential Chess Quotations

A great chessplayer is not a great man, for he leaves the world as he found it.


Grandmaster games are said to begin with novelty, which is the first move of the game that exits the book. It could be the fifth, it could be the thirty-fifth. We think about a chess game as beginning with move one and ending with checkmate. But this is not the case. The game begins when it gets out of book, and it ends when it goes into book.

BRIAN CHRISTIAN, The Most Human Human

Chess is a sea in which a gnat may drink and an elephant may bathe.


Chess is in its essence a game, in its form an art, and in its execution a science.


Chess is life.

Chess is not a standard for measuring the abilities of your acquaintances--nor an epitome of all the sciences--nor a panacea for all human ills--nor a subject for daily toil and nightly meditation. It is simply a recreation, and only to be used and regarded as such. The less selfish you are in its pursuit--the clearer head--the more patience--the better temper you bring to the practice of it, the better will you illustrate the merits of chess as the most intellectual of games, and establish your own character as a philosopher even in sport.

HOWARD STAUNTON, "The Chess-Player's Handbook," Littell's Living Age, Aug. 18, 1849

For a game it is too serious, for seriousness too much of a game.

MOSES MENDELSSOHN, attributed, Total Chess

Chess is a wooden or ivory allegory.

CHATFIELD, attributed, Day's Collacon

In the opening a master should play like a book, in the middle game he should play like a magician, in the ending he should play like a machine.

IRVING CHERNEV, The Bright Side of Chess

Chess is all about getting the king into check, you see. It's about killing the father. I would say that chess has more to do with the art of murder than it does with the art of war.


Chess is the gymnasium of the mind.

PASCAL, attributed, Essential Chess Quotations

Like most conversations and most chess games, we all start off the same and we all end the same, with a brief moment of difference in between. Fertilization to fertilizer. Ashes to ashes. And we spark across the gap.

BRIAN CHRISTIAN, The Most Human Human

Chess is too troublesome a game for some men's brains; it is too full of anxiety, all but as bad as study; besides it is a testy, choleric game, and very offensive to him that loseth the mate.

ROBERT BURTON, The Anatomy of Melancholy

In the game of chess we see illustrated the game of life and its vicissitudes--success and failure.

OPOIX, attributed, Day's Collacon

Of chess it has been said that life is not long enough for it, but that is the fault of life, not chess.

WILLIAM NAPIER, attributed, The Encyclopaedia of Chess

This game the Persian Magi did invent,
The force of Eastern wisdom to express:
From thence to busy Europeans sent,
And styled by modern Lombards pensive chess.

SIR J. DENHAM, "An Occasional Imitation of a Modern Author Upon the Game of Chess"

Wherever chess is mentioned in old chronicles or metrical romances, it is as the occasion of some act of violence or bitter feud. The great size of the early chessmen, and the use of metal in the boards, must have rendered them tempting weapons for an angry man--the rooks especially seem to have been often used as Homer's heroes employ some huge stone.

HOWARD STAUNTON, "The Chess-Player's Handbook," Littell's Living Age, Aug. 18, 1849

I'm not much of a chess player, but there is an aspect of the game that I find fascinating. After a while, you can almost see lines of force between the pieces. Areas of danger where it is physically impossible to move pieces into. Clouds of possibility, forbidden zones.

HANNU RAJANIEMI, The Fractal Prince

It was like when you make a move in chess and just as you take your finger off the piece, you see the mistake you've made, and there's this panic because you don't know yet the scale of disaster you've left yourself open to.


There are two classes of men: those who are content to yield to circumstances and who play whist; and those who aim to control circumstances and who play chess.


What is a weak pawn? A pawn that is exposed to attack and also difficult to defend is a weak pawn. There are several varieties: isolated, doubled, too advanced, retarded.

SAMUEL RESHEVSKY, Art of Positional Play

Chess is life.



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