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MACA Book Review
Philosophy Looks at Chess Philosophy Looks at Chess
by: Edited by Benjamin Hale

Price: $19.95
ISBN: 978-0-8126-9633-2
Format: Book 208pp.
Publisher: Open Court

Reviewed by: Chess Horizons Editor Mark Donlan
Recommendation: Recommended

This is a collection of twelve essays “that relate playfully to the game of chess.” The first looks at the mysteries of retrograde analysis and the philosophical world view of Raymond Smullyan based on his two books of chess problems. In the second piece, Andy Miah contends that chess is not a good gauge for artificial intelligence, and that other games or sports would serve as better models. Tama Coutts then presents the opposite argument: that chess playing computers do understand chess in a relevant manner; while John Hartmann addresses the relation between humans and technology and concludes that any user of ChessBase is akin to a cyborg.

Bill Martin “seeks to unearth an argument that a benevolent God can still exist in a world permeated with evil and tragedy”; and Tommy Curry writes about the psychological and socio-cultural elements in human interaction to show that “Black (Africana) players play chess differently than white (Caucasian) players.” Editor Benjamin Hale argues that “discourse ethics applies to games with nonhumans as well as to games with humans” and Pete Morriss claims that chess is not as revealing about ethical dilemmas as some have stated.
Deb Vossen concludes that chess is “not” a game, and Stuart Rachels gives an account of his early chess career and the state of the games in today’s culture. He writes, “When chess players call chess a sport, this strikes me not only as false, but as pathetic… American culture has rejected chess… Chess is a game, an art, and a competitive struggle. That is nothing to be ashamed of, is it?”

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