In today’s politically correct (PC) world, everything is under review for potential offensiveness. While I find such witch hunts of offensiveness offensive, I would like to offer a brief argument of why the game of chess may come under the scrutiny of the “PC police” and be banned.
First, let me give the disclaimer that I am myself an avid chess player, and have been for 50 years. It certainly helps develop strategy and mental skill. But upon reflection, and with tongue slightly in cheek, I must admit that the game entails some troubling subliminal messages, which the PC police need to carefully consider.
The most obvious problem is that chess is inherently racist. Black versus white is not something we should be encouraging in a racially tense culture. And, of course, white goes first, which is something I would think is disturbing to people of color. It’s like sitting on the back of the bus. It’s another form of white supremacy.
On the other hand, white going first suggests that whites are more aggressive than blacks. The board is set up with everyone’s pieces in line, with total peace on the playing field. And then the whites attack. Every time. The message is that being white makes you the aggressor.
And aggression is an important part of chess. I once tried playing chess with a computer and tried not being aggressive. It was impossible. Aggression is built into the game. It’s a game of war and conflict. It trains the player to look for ways of defeating the opponent, not ways of making peace.
As with all wars, there will be casualties, usually to pawns. Pawns are also the weakest pieces. You would think that a kingdom should protect its most vulnerable and weakest citizens, not send them to war to be sacrificed like, well, like pawns.
And it’s all to protect the king. You can have all your pieces, but if the king is taken all is lost. Everyone, including the queen, is sacrificed if needed to save the king. Of course, this unquestioning subservience to a monarch is very undemocratic, and even fascistic.
It’s also misogynistic to assume that the queen must die for the king. Shouldn’t the king protect his queen? What happened to chivalry?
Of course, the queen is more powerful than the king, since she can move in any direction any number of spaces. The king is only limited to one space at a time. He clearly has no superiority of form or function. There is no good reason why the queen should be sacrificed for the lesser king. This is pure paternalistic clap-trap, and perpetuates gender discrimination. I suppose the queen must also wear a bra and high-heels as she goes around the board saving her good-for-nothing husband.
And speaking of gender, what sex are the pawns? When they reach the other side of the board they can be exchanged for any piece, including a rook, bishop, knight or a queen. But usually they become a queen. Does this mean they are female pawns? Do they undergo gender reassignment when they reach the other end of the board? It seems pawns are gender neutral, or at least gender confused, until they decide what they want to become. Do we want children playing chess to wonder about their gender as they move down their board of life? Should we be telling boys that queens are better than kings? This kind of gender-confused message could cause pubescent children to get into a lather.
As for male role models, kings are really pathetic. All they know how to do is fight. They are unable to stop the war in which they are perpetually engaged. Two kings can’t even approach one another. No negotiated settlements are allowed. Each king is solely focused on himself, a royal narcissist who runs to his castle to hide behind some pawns at the first sight of a threat. He is ruthless, willing to send everyone to their deaths if need be. He is a selfish brute. Is this really the kind of leader we want boys to emulate when they grow up?
Chess also promotes Christianity over other religions. Notice that there are only bishops on a chess board. What’s up with that? What about using ayatollahs or rabbis instead? Maybe one side should have rabbis and the other ayatollahs. Or how about protestant ministers versus Catholic bishops? Of course, all this is objectionable to agnostics and atheists, who may prefer counselors instead of bishops. Maybe it should be astrologers versus scientists? Clearly, more diversity is needed here, and the Christian monopoly on the bishop piece is offensive and hateful to non-Christians. It probably promotes Islamophobia, as well.
And how about the impact of chess on stupid people? Winning at chess is considered by many as a sign of intelligence, and losing at chess suggests that your opponent is smarter than you are. This win-lose game reinforces insecurities in stupid kids, who get turned-off to chess because they lose all the time and instead decide to play video games. Many of these video games are violent, and teach these dumb kids how to be violent.
Chess is therefore a “gateway game” to violence. This means that stupid kids playing chess may someday be profiled as potential criminals. Stupid chess players are thus a threat to national security, while profiling them as potential criminals is a threat to our freedom. It’s sort of a stalemate.
Today’s world is different from the past world that spawned this game of chess. We now respect all religions as equal. We don’t think the world should be run by bloodthirsty, selfish kings, and think queens should be able to rule without a king. We insist on pawns having more say in what happens, since “Pawn Lives Matter”. We don’t want to refer to losers as losers, since that can hurt their feelings and reinforce their sense of being losers. And if a king decides to become a queen, that’s okay, too.