Chess, Hockey, and Words


Recently someone at a chess site remarked that it was OK to “trash talk” and insult an opponent in game of chess. His reasoning? “Trash talking” was common when he was playing hockey.

Here is my reply.


I would think chess is a more civilized activity than hockey. People may go to a fight and hope a hockey game might break out.

But chess has always been considered an intellectual activity. It requires thought, intelligence, imagination, and discipline.

It has been used a propaganda tool. The USSR used chess to promote the idea that their system of government was superior to the Western democracies.


Chess has been a symbol in art, literature, TV, and the movies to indicate an intelligence, the beginnings of intelligence, or the superiority of one thing over another. In the movie, 2001, HAL was playing chess against an astronaut. Guess who was winning? In Star Trek (OS), Spock and Kirk played chess on more than one occasion. Spock never won a game against Kirk, signifying there is more to chess, and life, than just pure logic.

The top chess players wear business suits when they play. What do hockey players wear? Face masks and padding.

Words are powerful things. Trash talking is not just “having fun”. It is with words we send men to hang on the gallows or sit in the electric chair. It is with words we declare war. It is with words we use to inflict psychological harm, in addition to the physical harm, to one another. It is also with words which we seek to forgive.

To throw insults at a player demeans the character of chess. It shows the lack of maturity and sophistication. It is a cheap shot.

Using insults is often used by players those who believe (sometimes with justification) that they can’t otherwise win the game.

Why would one want to hurt someone else? Because they are better than you in something? Would you stop if they asked you to do so?

Well, here is one request. Please stop.


One thought on “Chess, Hockey, and Words

  1. *applause* Great post. I agree entirely. I used to play a game on some newsgroups called “combat prose,” where we’d seek to out-insult each other. Ultimately it became tedious, but also we ended up hurting some people who wandered into the public group not realizing “the game” was in progress. Not cool. I’m glad I stopped.


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