Oct 4 2013 5:00pm

Chess Was Once Considered Bad For You

Kevin C. Pyle and Scott Cunningham

Bad for You games chess

In Bad For You, coming on January 7th from Henry Holt, authors Kevin C. Pyle and Scott Cunningham expose the long-standing campaign against fun for what it really is: a bunch of anxious adults grasping at straws, ignoring scientific data, and blindly yearning for the good old days that never were.

A portion of the book looks at the hysteria over gaming, be it tabletop or video, and how depressingly cyclical that unthinking hysteria can be. As evidenced by the following snippet from the book, even chess was once considered a path to moral degeneracy. Checkmate, said the devil.

You can see more excerpts from Kevin C. Pyle and Scott Cunningham’s Bad For You here on, including maps of comic book burnings, a history of banned books stretching back over 2000 years, and much more.

Eugene R.
1. Eugene R.
And Scientfic American was bad-mouthing chess at exactly the time that Paul Morphy (age 22) was being hailed as the first American world champion of chess, returning from a successful tour of Europe, where he beat just about everybody who was anybody (save for Howard Staunton, the English champion who ducked Morphy). Yup, you kids today are going to wrack and ruin!
Ian Tregillis
2. ITregillis
According to lore (that reputable source), blindfolded simultaneous chess match exhibitions were once banned in the Soviet Union owing to their detrimental effect on mental health. (In 1947, Miguel Najdorf played 45 simultaneous chess games during a single 24 hour period. He won 39, but couldn't sleep for 3 days afterward...)
Susan Davis
3. sue
I'd be more concerned that they're playing it wrong: the right corner on the back rank is supposed to be white.
Eugene R.
4. Betsy
@3: I was thinking that the layout of pieces seems impossible: what was the last black move? Wouldn't the king have had to be in check at the beginning of that move?
Eugene R.
6. Reiko
@3 Are you talking from a player's perspective or from the sideways persepective we get in the picture? From either player's perspective, the back rank does have the right corner in white.
@4 I think this is already supposed to be checkmate and the devil is about to knock white's king over with his queen. (Some people just don't know when to quit.)
Eugene R.
7. Pauly
White is in double-check. It doesn't seem possible that Black could have gotten to this position without cheating !!

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