Chess: is it a sport or a game?

It’s been over 20 years since a super computer beat chess world champion Garry Kasparov .

Since then, the computer has evolved into a common feature in all households and allowed for people to be able to play chess against both machine and man.

Outside of the virtual world, the game of Chess has been an exhibition event in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, and applied and failed to be at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020.

What remains is the question – as the game grows and grows, should Chess be classed as a sport or a game?

Sport is usually defined as an activity of physical exertion, but a mental sport defines as when the mental exercise is more significant than the physical.

Dave Bull, secretary at  Lincoln Chess Club, agrees that chess therefore qualifies as more of a mind-sport.

“It offers good hand-eye coordination, but it doesn’t require any physical skills,” he said.

“Chess players call it a sport but it is a mind game.”

Mind games however are not recognised as sports, with Chess and Bridge examples of rejected Olympic events ahead of the Tokyo games in 2020.

But how long will it be before these mind games are sporting events?

When I was working on a story on the Lincolnshire Chess Association , there were certain characteristics that made Chess very like other sports.

For instance, I came across all the strict rules and constitutions set by both the club and the Lincolnshire Chess Association.

This, I soon realised, was much more than a game or a hobby.

The rules set annual general meetings, presidential and secretarial elections, game rules, and ranking rules (set by both the association and the international association FIDE – the governing body of Chess).

Dave Bull, after being elected Lincoln secretary for this season, has a ranking of 133 for instance, making him eligible to play for the top county division.

The higher the ranking, the higher possibility of a player becoming an international master.

Some international masters are earning upwards of £100,000 a year, according to Dave.

Surely then, if a sport offers the top players the kind of wages available in other sports, it should be recognised on a bigger stage.

The Lincolnshire Chess Association certainly offer the opportunity for Lincolnshire’s top talent to match each other, with Lincoln, Grimsby, Louth and Scunthorpe all part of the main division.

“We get to know each other across the counties,” said Dave, “and our club has a range of people, from students, to the elderly, to women.”

A growing mind-sport, offering the opportunity to connect people globally, earn top money and present their own rules, competitions, rankings and tournaments locally. Is it a matter of time before a mind-sport starts to receive the same recognition as more traditional sports?

And then perhaps there will be many more big occasions such as the one 21 years ago.

 

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