Arts: Music and a Game of Chess

Even in the Middle Ages, chess and music were among the arts that a knight should be able to master. Chess, music, and math are areas where child prodigies have always appeared, 12, 13, or 14-year-olds who are among the best in their field. But if you want to appreciate the beauty of chess games, you need a basic knowledge of the game much like learning the basics of playing the violin, piano, or guitar. Today, learning the basics of chess is easily accessible through an online chess lesson. But in medieval times, learning chess was a challenge.

The cultural philosopher George Steiner points to the similarity of the three areas: they are non-verbal and are based on an interplay of abstract dynamic relationships of spatial arrangements. This appeals to certain brain regions that could develop independently of the psyche. You don’t need life experience to understand mathematical formulas and to be able to play the violin, piano, or chess.

Passionate Chess Players Who Also Loved Music

Arnold Schönberg. Schönberg was also enthusiastic about chess. He even devised his own game, coalition chess, for which he made the board and pieces himself. He expanded the playing field to ten by ten fields, and in response to warfare in the First World War, he created three new characters: the submarine, which combines the gait of a queen and a knight, the machine gun, a combination of a pawn and a king, and the flyer, which can perform a double knight move. In addition, there were no longer two parties, but four, two major powers and two minor powers, which could form coalitions with each other at the beginning of the game.

John Cage. Another musical innovator, John Cage, was also a chess enthusiast. While he relied on chance in his compositions, he was fascinated by the predictability of chess. In 1968 he put on a performance called “Sightsoundsystem” with his friend Marcel Duchamp, who had once been among the best players in France. In complete darkness they played against each other; a synthesizer turned their moves into tones.

Mark Taimanov. Russian grandmaster Mark Taimanov, who was among the best chess players in the world in the 1950s and who formed a leading piano duo with his wife Lubov Brok, once answered when asked how he was able to pursue two careers at such a high level: “I have mine I didn’t mix the two jobs, I’ve alternated between the two. I always say when I gave concerts I took a break from chess and when I played chess I took a break from the piano. So my whole life has been one long vacation! ”

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Final Thoughts

Perhaps it is this playfulness, the desire to try new things, the willingness to indulge in the purposeless pleasure that attracts many musicians to chess – and many chess players to music.

Chess and music are both art forms that are enjoyed by many. While there are varying ideas about the relationship between chess and music in art, the only thing that matters is the satisfaction and fulfillment the players get from it. Others can go far and beyond their passion in chess and music, while others are satisfied with just mastering the art, what’s common is the satisfaction they receive in doing so.