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Chess by Shelby Lyman

Sports are curiously contradictory.

They range in character from activities that are pure play - or almost pure play - to those that are brutally competitive.

The same sport can, of course, wander the extremes.

The harmless activity of children playfully sparring with each other in a playground is transformed in a professional boxing ring into a brutal and bloody attempt to pummel the opponent into unconsciousness.

Bodily and cognitive maiming are frequent results, death an occasional one.

For most of us, chess is more a relaxing form of play than a competitive sport.

Jose Capablanca, world champion from 1921-27, offered the following insight: “During the course of many years I have observed that a great number of doctors, lawyers and important businessmen make a habit of visiting a chess club during the late afternoon or evening to relax and find relief from the preoccupations of their work.”

The Cuban nonpareil of chess probably is describing a scene he repeatedly witnessed at the Manhattan Chess Club that he often frequented in his later years.

My own personal experience is that chess, as a form of play, is an alluring diversion from stress of any kind.

Besides its feel-good quality, it reinvigorates you for a return to the battlefield of life.

Below is a win by Romain Edouard against Andrei Shchekachev from the French Championship in San-Quentin, France,

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