Chess as a metaphor for war

Historical knowledge and information regarding our great game.
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Gerard Killoran
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Chess as a metaphor for war

Post by Gerard Killoran » Sun Dec 28, 2014 12:02 pm

Although it is a myth that everybody thought the Great War would be 'over by Christmas', even in early 1915 the chess journalist W. H. Watts believed it would be a war of manoeuvre leading to a quick and decisive finish. In fact the war had already become one of attrition and position between lines of trenches. His notes would have been much less light-hearted had he known of the horrors of the Somme to come.

From The Strand Magazine. v.49 1915 Jan-Jun.


BY W. H. Watts

THE similarity between chess and the great art of war has been remarked upon innumerable occasions. So great is this similarity that a variant on chess has been invented in recent years which goes by the name of "Kriegspiel," or "War Game," to give its nearest English equivalent. This is the game at which German officers are so expert, and which, according to newspaper reports, they play during their brief spells of rest in the present campaign. But the likeness of chess to war is as marked as that of Kriegspiel, and the extremely lively and entertaining game which follows has been dissected and annotated in a manner which illustrates the similarity. It was played thirty years ago between two very famous English chess-players The Rev. G. A. MacDonnell played the White pieces and H. E. Bird. the Black. We think all who have the remotest knowledge of chess will willingly admit its remarkable likeness to the present great war. It is understood for the convenience of the comparison that the White pieces are the German forces and the Black are the Allies - Belgians, French, and English.

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