Chess As A Spiritual Paradigm of the Universe

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11 Responses

  1. Raymond says:

    What a perfect example of the knack that the Rebbe had, for bringing G-dliness down to this mundane Earth. My understanding is that this is precisely the goal of the Chassidic movement.

  2. BTG says:

    Please note that (at least judging by the date) the Rebbe here is R’ Yosef Yitzcho Schneersohn, Z”L.

  3. shlomo zalman says:

    Reshevsky a world famous chess master? Ouch.
    Sammy Reshevsky as a nine year old child prodigy, defeated the entiore West Point cadet team (15 players)simultaneously. A master tactician and theorist, he was once ranked number one in the world, and was favored to win the world championship. His commitment to orthodox practice prevented him from playing professionally on shabbat, nor did he play for fun on shabbat as for him it was “uvda d’chol”. Many considered this as the obstacle between him and the world championship, which eluded him. He was considered among the top players in the world for decades,well into his sixties, almost unheard of in the chess world. He defeated all of the famous Russain grandmasters, even without the aid of a team of seconds (helpers).
    When mentioning his name, one should stand in awe, not only for his chess genius, but for the fact that even as the best chess player in the world, he never compromised on Toras Moshe. Yehi zichro baruch.

  4. Raymond says:

    Shlomo Zalman, thank you for that wonderful tribute to Samuel Reshevsky. I would have never known about this otherwise, as I do not follow chess. But his heroics reminds me a lot of that very famous heroic act of my all-time favorite baseball player, Sandy Koufax who, despite not even being religious, refused to pitch the opening day of the 1965 World Series because it fell right on Yom Kippur. People imagine that he must have spent that entire day in deep prayer and fasting, but the truth is, is that he watched the ball game from his hotel room. So why did he do it? Because he knew he was a role model for millions of young boys, and lived up to that responsibility. He did not live only for himself. I wonder how many professional baseball players of today, would have such strength of character.

  5. Bob Miller says:

    The ancient Persian Zoroastrian religion was dualistic; isn’t chess,too? (white vs. black, each with its own king)

  6. Shanks says:

    I have a longstanding, if casual, interest in chess history: I’d really like to know when Reshevsky was ranked number 1 in the world. I’d also be interested in who considered Shabbos the obstacle between him and the title of World Chess Champion.

    Also, since I’m a stickler for accuracy: Shlomo Zalman’s tribute is great, but there were a few errors. It wasn’t 15 people Reshevsky played at West Point, but 20; he won 19 games and drew one. Reshevsky didn’t “defeat all the famous Russian grandmasters.” Just sticking to the undisputed World Champions Reshevsky played: Reshevsky only managed to tie Tal in 1964 in their one non-blitz game; in the blitz games, Tal wiped the floor with him. Tigran Petrosian defeated Reshevsky twice (eight draws) and Spassky once (two draws); Reshevsky never beat any of those players.

    Don’t get me wrong. Reshevsky was one of the best in the world. He’s one of 6 non-World-Chess-Champions who Kasparov covers in My Great Predecessors. Just trying to get the facts straight.

  7. Shanks says:

    Also, Reshevsky had a 12-move draw with Karpov.

    It might be of interest to the readership here that one of the three yeshiva-educated grandmasters played Reshevsky: Akiba Rubinstein destroyed Reshevsky. Reshevsky never played Nimzowitsch or Steinitz.

  8. Raymond says:

    Bob Miller, I think the duality in chess is compared to the dual nature of our souls, with our good and evil inclinations battling it out with one another. Evil may not ultimately exist in some transcendent sense, since G-d ultimately cannot have any real rivals, but meanwhile, in this world, things have been set up such that things have different apparent degrees of G-dliness in them. Thus, even though G-d is everywhere, we are not permitted to bring the Torah into certain rooms and places considered too degrading for it, and the Temple Mount is considered a holier spot than any other place in the world.

  9. shlomo zalman says:

    Dear Shanks,
    Thanks for all your corrections, I admit I was doing it from memory and did not check all the details. My apologies.
    Thanks also for your agreeing with the gist of what I wrote. I will add two things. One, Tal was arguably the best blitz player ever, his love of tactical complications and daring play threw all blitzers out of whack. Two, Reshevsky’s prime years were way before the prime years of Petrosian (18 years his junior) and Spassky (26 years his junior). Reshevsky’s greatness spanned so many eras that sometimes we forget that he defeated the legendary Capablanca in 1935, two years before Spassky was even born.

  10. shlomo zalman says:

    Shanks, one more thing. I have two relatives who knew Reshevsky and they both told me that the refusal to play on Shabbos resulted in many scheduling problems, not to mention practice time lost, essentially preventing him from making it to the top. It is well known that he left chess for seven years, ages 14-21 to attain an education and degree. Arguably, these would have been his formative chess years. As far as his ranking, I cannot verify it, but Bobby Fischer said he was greater than all the Russian grandmasters in the 1950s. The Russians colluded against him in tournaments so he would not win, as they admitted decades later.

  11. the sabra says:

    Thanks for linking to this.
    The world needs Chassidus!

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