Michael Dummett

  • Chess: The History of a Game by Richard Eales
    Batsford, 240 pp, £12.50, December 1984, ISBN 0 7134 4607 2

The history of a game, like that of an art form such as ballet, has an external and an internal aspect, which in neither case can be kept sharply separated. Under the external aspect, we must, for each period, ask such questions as these. In what countries was it played? Among which social groups? Did they play at home, or in cafés, clubs or gaming houses? Was it played only at the local level, or were there organised regional, national or international competitions? Was there an authority to lay down the rules? Was the game played for high stakes, for moderate ones or for none? Did the players regard it as a serious pursuit or a light recreation? Did they play rapidly or with deliberation, talking as they played or in intent silence? Was it generally regarded with respect, despised as a frivolous waste of time, condemned as degrading or treated with indifference?

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