Prof. Dr. Kemal Arıkan

Chess and psychiatry

Chess and psychiatry… Even though there is less interest in it than in the past, chess is still a wonderful game. Many expressions like: Opening, middlegame, endgame, pawn, king, queen, “gambit” (a sacrifice used to gain an early advantage) “Zugzwang” (the situation where no matter what you do you lose), and many more correspond to something in life…

…the Karpov’s, Kasparov’s, Lasker’s, Capablanca’s, Spassky’s, Fisher’s… and many more… Have a look at Lasker who regards the game as a psychological fight between two people… Anyhow, in my personal opinion the reason why the game has lost its former respectability are the computers onto which all possible combinations can be loaded. Thus the game has lost its connection with creative powers, intelligence, reason, wisdom and other higher values, and has become entirely a memory game. Especially since the device has started to beat everyone at the game, including great masters, it has lost all its charm. Nevertheless, I still use the way of thinking in the game in my professional practices… I find it secretly amusing to observe how in the game of love people lose the game before it even starts because of a silly opening move, people who in the middlegame are overcome by languor and lose out to their competitor, people who suffer from depression and are unnecessarily submerged in despair, people who have a tendency towards mania and rashly sacrifice their bishops, rooks, everything they have, for a bright idea of theirs; paranoid people who overrate every move the opponent makes, schizophrenic behaviour that is ever-changing and not consistent in its strategy or even without strategy, persons with obsessive thoughts who are characterized by indecisiveness and lack of initiative and leave the game the moment things go contrary to their plans. I made this confession knowing that it will remain between us. It is not that I get pleasure from other people’s difficulties; I would treat myself in the same manner… I am addressing those geniuses who say they can see 10 moves ahead and are proud of it and get cornered whilst they are saying it! On the other hand the humble and wise persons who know that the most correct strategy is to discover the only and best move at that particular moment… Those who see the sacrifice of the Queen as the end of everything and start celebrating untimely, the shrewd ones… Then the patient and skilful investors who know what an advantage it is towards the end of the game to have preserved one more pawn… Do you not think that to witness all this is entertaining? Is life a fight?… A fight which one wins or loses? I don’t know, but I know for sure that it is a game… Maybe a game without winners or losers…

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