Ben Franklin knew value of royal game
Saturday, January 2, 2010 3:00 AM
By SHELBY LYMAN

Chess has an appeal with seemingly deep roots in the human situation.

In his late-18th-century essay “The Morals of Chess,” Benjamin Franklin declared that life is a variation of the game.

“We learn by chess the habit of not being discouraged by present appearances in the state of our affairs, the habit of hoping for a favourable change, and that of persevering in the search of resources,” he said.

“The game is so full of events, . . . and one so frequently, after long contemplation, discovers the means of extricating one’s self from a supposed insurmountable difficulty.”

Janice and Don Hawkins of Windsor, N.Y., a couple in their 60s who are infrequent players, recently dusted off their chess set and began to play after a long furlough from the board.

Janice e-mailed me a few days later with the following observation:

“Chess truly is so much like life,” she said. “Just when you think life is going in the right direction, ‘something’ comes up to throw you a curve, and you have to formulate your life plan all over again.”

Her words will never appear in an anthology, but — more than 200 years later — they are clearly in the spirit of old Ben’s.

Here is the full article.

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