10 Sep 2019, 13:16 IST
Sport unites the most divided of people. It is such a powerful thing that two people who are not on talking terms with each other can come out and support the same team together.
It is so appealing that two people who can barely stand each other can open up to an hour-long discussion about how Real Madrid will line up next year.
Sport brings about harmony among people. We can switch on the TV and forget about our sorrows while watching a long rally in badminton. We can also get lost in the excitement of the last set tie-break of a Grand Slam final.
We love watching Cristiano Ronaldo, Roger Federer, Lee Chong Wei, Kobe Bryant and other sporting superstars. We watch them because they remind us of the value of being physically fit.
But how often do we think of the mental fitness aspect of sports?
Chess is a beautiful sport if you look at it from that perspective. It gives rigorous exercise to the brain; it trains you to look at every situation in different ways.
We always seek to take care of our physique by doing various exercises; we never lag in that department. But have we ever thought of exercising our brain?
Chess presents us with more problems to solve than any other sport does. It opens up new pathways of thinking in our head, which can help us in different paths of life.
Just the way we look at situations on a chessboard in different ways, we also learn to look at real-life problems in various ways.
The beauty of how the bishop moves, the remorselessness of the queen, the cunning way in which a knight advances, how the king depends on his surrounding pieces – everything looks beautiful when played on a chessboard.
The way we integrate the function of two rooks to take down the mighty queen teaches us that with proper planning and thinking, we can overcome any adverse situation.
The way we make use of two bishops to checkmate the opposition king is brilliant and informative at the same time. It teaches us how to make use of whatever we have at our disposal to get the job done.
The destruction which the pawns can cause on the chessboard should warn us never to underestimate anyone in any field of life regardless of how small they are.
When we combine the traits of every single piece on the chessboard to achieve the sole purpose of defeating the opponent, something beautiful emerges. Those 64 adjacent black and white squares form a turf like none other – a battle of iconic proportions can occur in such a small place.
The number of variations that can arise on this hallowed board is countless, very similar to the different twists that our lives can take. Chess helps us deal with the twists. The humble board game helps us plan whatever we intend to do accurately, and to execute whatever we have planned.
It helps us get out of tricky situations in real life, just like we try to do on the chessboard. It gives us a never-say-die attitude.
Chess as a sport and an exercise needs to be encouraged at all age levels, just the way physical activity is. At the same time, we should not force it on someone who is not able to grasp it as quickly as some others. We should let everyone learn it at their own pace.
We should try giving the same importance to the game of chess as we give to other sports. We should remain as engaged in this beautiful game as we do in other sports, since the brain is as important to our health as our physique.