The Indoor Game I like the Best
There are many indoor games. Some are ancient, like chess and draughts, and some are modern inventions like ludo, tiddly-winks, and ping-pong. Some are games of pure chance, like some card games, and some are games of skill, like chess. All such games are meant as amusements to pass the time, but some of them, while giving amusement give something more.
I do not much like card games; for I think that any game that depends mostly on chance, very soon loses its interest. Of course, there is a good deal of skill, or at any rate memory and shrewd guessing, required in some card games, like the bridge. But after all, luck has a great deal to do with winning: for even the best player cannot do much with a bad hand of cards, and even the worst must do something with a good hand. And whether we have a good hand or a bad hand is entirely a matter of chance. That is why, I suppose, people do not as a rule care for card games unless they can play for money. Only gambling can keep up an interest in cards.
My favourite indoor game is chess. Practically no chances come into chess; it is nearly all pure skill. And this is what gives chess its let interest. To be a good chess player, one must have great patience, must be able to look ahead and calculate what the result of every movement will be, and one must have great power of concentration. A game of chess is a battle, a wrestling match, between two minds. Although the two players sit perfectly still and scarcely speak a word, they are engaged in an exciting mental combat. And the cleverest man wins. Chess does not need gambling to make it interesting.
So chess is not a mere amusement, though it is very amusing. It is a fine form of mental exercise. It teaches one to think, to calculate, to look ahead, to read other people’s thoughts and intentions. Before he dares move a piece, the player has to ask himself-If I move my knight there, what will be the result? Will my opponent move up his bishop, or withdraw his queen, or play a pawn? If he does the first, will that put my king in danger? If he does the second, can I check his King? If he does the third, will he spoil my attack? And whatever he does, what shall I do next? — and so on and so on.
So, for real excitement and interest, and for real mental recreation, give me a game of chess.