On Chess: Settling The Debates: Is Chess A Sport? Sports are defined as athletic activities requiring skill or physical prowess and are often competitive by nature. But the wide world of sports is vast — from the traditional games of football, baseball and golf to horse racing and dog sports, to the more obscure like corn hole (which, like chess, is enjoying a moment of fame during the COVID era as sports lovers lean into watching tournaments on ESPN and streaming online in lieu of more mainstream sports that are still postponed).
No matter the definition, there will always be varied opinions of what is considered a sport. And, perhaps, none is more debated than chess. Chess is a classic game — dating back more than 1,500 years. Let’s break down how chess fits into the definition of a sport. Are there rules? Like all sports, chess has a defined set of rules and etiquettes.
The International Chess Federation serves as the governing body of the sport of chess, and it regulates all international chess competitions. Additionally, the International Olympic Committee considers chess to be a sport. Does chess require skill or is it a game of chance? A resounding “yes” chess requires skill! As in most human endeavors, there is some element of chance in the competitive results of chess games.
But luck for one side generally comes in the form of an opponent’s error. Elite chess players spend years training, studying and mastering their sport. Chess requires extreme focus, patience and dedication – all traits shared by other sports greats. Does chess require athletic ability? While chess tournaments don’t contain the same physical action as what is displayed on a football field, it is a fallacy to believe that chess players don’t require both mental and physical exertion.
There may not be a more demanding game for mental acuity, but being in good physical shape is also a prerequisite for the world’s most competitive players. For these world-class chess players, training their bodies for peak performance is key to staying on top of the rigorous mental demands of the game.
- Chess grandmaster Levon Aronian has been quoted saying: “The best way to manage the stress is to be in good physical shape.
- At this moment I have lots of chess knowledge and, therefore, apart from chess, I need to have physical strength.” Is chess competitive? Yes, and like most sports there are progressive levels of competition.
On any given day, there are chess matches and formal competitions taking place all over the world. As with other sports, there are certain tournaments that represent the pinnacle of the sport, an homage to the prestige, difficulty and honor of reaching the utmost levels.
- In fact the United States, and St.
- Louis specifically, serve as the home for some of the most recognized tournaments, including the, and — all of which feature the strongest field of players from across the country and around the world.
- So where does that leave us? What qualifies as a true sport may be the grist for endless arguments.
The only certainty may be in the eye of the beholder. But for the millions of chess players, instructors, tournament organizations and even enthusiasts, chess is just as much a sport as the next, and they all are looking for their next chance to claim the glorious checkmate.
Why is chess considered a sport?
The Case for Chess Being a Sport – The Oxford English Dictionary as: “An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment”. If we take this definition as gospel, it’d be fair to say that chess does indeed fit into the sports category.
Why chess is a game not a sport?
Chess: game or sport? Reading about the teenagers who have triumphed in the world of chess has got me thinking about the game’s relationship with sport and whether it is fair to categorise it in this way. The International Olympic Committee has recognised it as a sport since 2000 and it is considered as such in 24 out of 28 members of the EU.
Following the Prague Masters speed play-off on 22nd February, it was interesting to see Iranian Alireza Firouzja, aged 16, beat 25-year-old Vidit Gujrathi from India, winning 2-0. The news preceding this that American Carissa Yip, the same age as Firouzja, defeated reigning world champion Chinese grandmaster Ju Wenjun, aged 29, in the Cairns Cup was also exciting.
Even more so when considering her weak start as the lowest-ranked and youngest player. These teenage rising stars made me curious about the status of chess as a sport due to this ostensible correlation between youth and success. Cambridge Dictionary defines ‘sport’ as ‘a game, competition, or activity needing physical effort and skill that is played or done according to rules, for enjoyment and/or as a job’.
- According to this definition, chess does not assimilate with the term ‘sport’ as physical exertion is not something the game requires.
- Chess is played on a board while sitting down, and in order to make a move one must lift a one-ounce chess piece across the board after 15 minutes of strategic thought: therefore athletic ability is not required.
To contextualise, chess is not recognised as a sport in the UK and receives no public funding. In spite of this, as I have mentioned, the International Olympic Committee and over 100 countries recognise the game as a sport. There are a few reasons as to why this could be.
- Firstly, the game is competitive, two people are fixed in a competitive struggle for a sustained period of time.
- In this way, each game is thrilling, with the outcome unknown until the very end.
- Despite the evident lack of physical exertion, many argue that the peak mental condition required means that one has to be in good physical condition.
Players need to concentrate for up to seven hours and with the accumulating stress, blood pressure, pulse and respiration rates all increase. The contenders for the world championships have nutritionists and fitness coaches, which speaks to this need for physical wellbeing that is so often associated with professional athletes.
The behaviour code, another key characteristic of sport, is also a significant component of chess; players are penalised for poor sportsmanship like refusing to shake hands with their opponent and cheating is taken seriously. There is also an anti-doping policy. It goes without saying that there is a mental component to chess, and we could also see competitive sports as strategy games, the only difference being in their physical manifestation.
It is also true that the player ranking system, which was developed for chess in 1960, has been adopted by many other sports including American football, baseball, basketball, hockey, rugby and golf. This again puts it in the same field, no pun intended, as other sports.
- So, with all these reasons in mind, why do I still struggle to categorise it as a sport? The bottom line is that sport, for me at least, is characterised by physical exertion which is absent from chess.
- The subject sparks controversy for several reasons.
- Physical capacity aside, other games played on a board require strategy too: however we do not hear about Monopoly being considered in this category.
True, chess is more sophisticated and requires intelligence and concentration, but these do not mean that it is a sport when it so evidently lacks what many would consider to be the cornerstone of sport, its physical expression. Chess is certainly a unique game.
Even though the International Olympic Committee regards it as a sport, it is not practiced in the Olympic games. Instead it has its own international league held bi-annually called Fédération Internationale des Échecs (FIDE). This in itself demonstrates the foreign nature of the game in the sporting world.
Chess overlaps with sports in many ways and therefore merits funding and respect because just as much preparation and skill is required. That said, this preparation is primarily mental, as brain power is required more than anything else. Therefore, for me, it needs to be considered in its own lane.
What type of sport is chess?
7. Chess is a mind sport. – According to Wikipedia, “A mind sport is a game of skill where the mental exercise component is more significant than the physical.” Chess is a challenge of the mind, but it also challenges the mind, pushing humans to new intellectual feats, and developing critical thinking and problem solving skills.
Do the Olympics considered chess a sport?
Home Demystified Sports & Recreation Written and fact-checked by © elaborah/Fotolia The Olympic Games have expanded from 241 to more than 10,000 competitors since the original reestablishment in Athens with the 1896 Games, Dozens of additions and changes have been made in the Olympic program since 1896, with almost 100 events being added since 1980 alone.
Although enthusiasts of many activities hope to see their avocations become Olympic sports, only a few receive one of the coveted slots in the Olympic program. The first step in the process of becoming an Olympic sport is recognition as a sport from the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The IOC requires that the activity have administration by an international nongovernmental organization that oversees at least one sport.
Once a sport is recognized, it then moves to International Sports Federation (IF) status. At that point, the international organization administering the sport must enforce the Olympic Movement Anti-Doping Code, including conducting effective out-of-competition tests on the sport’s competitors while maintaining rules set forth by the Olympic Charter.
A sport may gain IOC recognition but not become a competing event at the Olympic Games. Bowling and chess are recognized sports, but they do not compete at the Games. To become a part of the Games, the sport’s IF must apply for admittance by filing a petition establishing its criteria of eligibility to the IOC.
The IOC may then admit an activity into the Olympic program in one of three different ways: as a sport; as a discipline, which is a branch of a sport; or as an event, which is a competition within a discipline. For instance, triathlon was admitted as a sport, debuting at the 2000 Games in Sydney.
Women’s wrestling was a new discipline in the sport of wrestling at the Athens Games, and women’s pole vaulting debuted in Sydney as a track-and-field event. Rules for admittance vary slightly between a new sport, a discipline, and an event, but the intent is the same. Once an IF has presented its petition, many rules and regulations control whether the sport will become part of the Olympic Games.
The Olympic Charter indicates that in order to be accepted, a sport must be widely practiced by men in at least 75 countries and on four continents and by women in no fewer than 40 countries and on three continents. The sport must also increase the ‘‘value and appeal” of the Olympic Games and retain and reflect its modern traditions.
There are numerous other rules, including bans on purely ‘‘mind sports” and sports dependent on mechanical propulsion. These rules have kept chess, automobile racing, and other recognized sports out of the Olympic Games. In recent years the IOC has worked to manage the scope of the Olympics by permitting new sports only in conjunction with the simultaneous discontinuation of others.
Sports that have already been part of the Games are periodically reviewed to determine whether they should be retained. The Olympic Programme Commission notes that problems have arisen when trying to find venues to accommodate some sports’ specific needs, such as baseball and softball, which were discontinued from Olympic programming after the 2008 Beijing Games.
When choosing sports to include in the program, the IOC must take into consideration media and public interest, since these are a key drive behind the Olympic Games, but must simultaneously manage costs. While a number of events have been added to the Games since their resumption in 1896, a good number have been sidelined.
Tug-of-war, for example, was once a respected Olympic sport. Cricket, lacrosse, polo, power boating, rackets, rink hockey, roque, and water skiing were all once part of the Olympic Games but have been discontinued over the years.
Do chess players consider chess a sport?
What Is a Sport? – A sport is routinely known as an activity involving physical excursion and skill where an individual or a team competes against others. By this definition, chess does not fit the criteria of a sport, as it does not involve physical exertion.
- Chess players do not need to be physically fit, nor do they need to have any athletic ability.
- They sit in a chair and move pieces around a board.
- This lack of physicality is a major reason why some argue that chess is not a sport.
- However, other definitions of sport include mental activities.
- For example, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognizes chess as a sport, which they include in the World Mind Sports Games.
The IOC defines sport as an activity that involves a competition between two or more individuals or teams, governed by rules and customs, and recognized as a sport by the international community. So, while chess may not involve physical exertion, it does involve mental exertion,
- Chess requires intense concentration, strategic thinking, and problem-solving skills.
- It also involves physical stamina, as players can spend hours sitting at the board, analyzing moves and making decisions.
- In fact, some chess players have even lost weight during tournaments due to mental strain.
- Moreover, chess is a competitive activity governed by rules and customs.
Chess tournaments are organized and regulated like any other sport, with players competing against one another to win prizes and gain recognition. Chess players are also subject to doping regulations and must follow a code of conduct.
Which country invented chess?
Chess first appeared in India about the 6th century CE. By the 10th century it had spread from Asia to the Middle East and Europe. Some regard the game chaturanga to be the precursor of modern chess because of the different piece abilities and the win condition being the capture of a singular piece (king).
Who did Muslims introduce chess to?
From Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia A leaf from the Libro de los juegos, Alfonso X of Castile, c.1283 The history of chess goes back almost 1500 years. The game originated in northern India in the 6th century AD and spread to Persia, When the Arabs conquered Persia, chess was taken up by the Muslim world and subsequently, through the Moorish conquest of Spain, spread to Southern Europe,
But in early Russia, the game came directly from the Khanates (muslim territories) to the south. In Europe, the moves of the pieces changed in the 15th century. The modern game starts with these changes. In the second half of the 19th century, modern tournament play began. Chess clocks were first used in 1883, and the first world chess championship was held in 1886.
The 20th century saw advances in chess theory, and the establishment of the World Chess Federation ( FIDE ). Chess engines (programs that play chess), and chess data bases became important.
Why is chess a male dominated sport?
Why Men Rank Higher than Women at Chess (It’s Not Biological) by Lisa Zyga, Phys.org Viswanathan Anand is the current World Chess Champion. (PhysOrg.com) – In the recorded history of chess, world champions have always been male, not female. Further, there is currently only one woman in the top 100 chess players in the world. Because chess is often considered to be the ultimate intellectual activity, male dominance at chess is often cited as an example of innate male intellectual superiority.
But rather than resort to biological or cultural explanations, a recent study proposes a different explanation. A team of researchers from the UK has shown that the under-representation of women at the top end in chess is almost exactly what would be expected, given the much greater number of men that participate in the game at all.
Researchers Merim Bilalic, et al., have published their research on this statistical sampling explanation in a recent issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, The authors analyzed the population of about 120,000 German players as recorded by the German chess federation in April 2007.
- Based on more than 3,000 tournaments per year, the German chess federation measures the skill level of all competitive and most hobby players in the country (the rating correlates highly with the widely known Elo rating).
- The sample population included 113,386 men and 7,013 women (a ratio of 16:1).
- First, the researchers estimated the expected performance of the top 100 male and top 100 female players.
Then, they compared the expected differences in points between these high-ranking male and female players with the actual point differences. Theoretically, the size difference between the male and female groups should correspond to the point differences between the top performers in the two groups.
- The results showed that the top three women had more points than expected, the next 70 or so pairs showed a small advantage for the men, and the last 20 pairs showed a small advantage for the women.
- Overall, men performed slightly better than expected, with an average advantage of 353 points, whereas the expected advantage was 341 points.
Nevertheless, about 96% of the actual difference between genders could be explained by the statistical fact that the extreme values from a large sample are likely to be larger than those from a small one. In the study, the scientists also discussed the question of why so few women participate in chess at all.
While it’s possible that there exists a self-selection process based on innate biological differences that leads women to drop out of chess early on, this argument rests on a controversial assumption, the researchers say. That is, it requires that there is an innate difference between genders in the intellectual abilities associated with chess – an assumption that has little empirical evidence to support it.
Whether or not statistical sampling covers all the bases of explaining male superiority in chess, the researchers hope that the explanation will be considered by both experts and laypeople. In previous discussions of gender difference, there is often no mention of participation rates, although a wide range of other reasons receive attention (e.g.
different interests and gatekeeper effects, etc.). In addition, the researchers question whether a statistical sampling explanation might explain the predominance of men at the top of science and engineering fields – although performance in these activities is much more difficult to measure than in objectively ranked chess populations.
More information: Bilalic, Merim; Smallbone, Kieran; McLeod, Peter; and Gobet, Fernand. “Why are (the best) women so good at chess? Participation rates and gender differences in intellectual domains.” Proceedings of the Royal Society B. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2008.1576.
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