6-3 | Strategy and Sociability


Strategy and Sociability
The Mind, the Body, and the Soul of Chess

Gary Alan Fine


Chess is a game of minds, bodies, and emotions. Most players recognize each of these as essential to playful competition, and all three are embedded in social relations. Thus chess, despite its reputation as a game of the mind, is not only a deeply thoughtful exercise, but also a test of physical endurance and strong emotions in its joys and failures. This exercise of thought, stamina, and feeling gets shaped, in turn, by chess’s dependence on social arrangements among a player, a competitive other, and an audience. Like all forms of social play, games like chess rely on the community in which they occur. Having spent five years observing scholastic, collegiate, community, and professional chess and having interviewed players of various skill levels, the author argues that chess must be understood in light of the social relations and the communities that shape the competition. Key words: body in chess play; chess; components of chess play; emotion in chess play; mind in chess play; social relations