Benjamin Franklin on The Morals of Chess

Ben Franklin was our most moralistic Founding Father. By “moralistic” I mean–he had to make some huge philosophical, right and wrong statement about everything in existence.

Some of this moralism is good, but most of it smacks of stupid based on the guy’s life. He who said “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise” Used to sleep until noon and go to bed in the early morning hours.

Morally speaking, he was a rather depraved individual. For me, this disqualifies him from being someone I take seriously, and most of his moral blather is probably just guilt justifying itself.

chess--it is a cool game
chess–it is a cool game

But alas, he wrote a cool piece on the morals of chess–how chess teaches important life lessons as well as how to play the game morally and how to win, lose, or spectate.

we learn by Chess the habit of not being discouraged by present appearances in the state of our affairs, the habit of hoping for a favourable change, and that of persevering in the search of resources. The game is so full of events, there is such a variety of turns in it, the fortune of it is so subject to sudden vicissitudes, and one so frequently, after long contemplation, discovers the means of extricating one’s self from a supposed insurmountable difficulty, that one is encouraged to continue the contest to the last, in hopes of victory from our own skill, or at least of getting a stalemate from the negligence of our adversary


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