RE: Is chess a sport?

Is strategy the only making of an athlete?

Michael Marquess, Cover Editor, Co-Art Editor

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As some of our readers may remember, in Issue 5, the previous issue of the 2018-19 Catamount, reporter Malavika Santosh (‘22) wrote a scathing article crushing the prospect of chess being considered a sport. Thomas Monahan (‘20) believes otherwise. Indignant of The Catamount erroneous publishing of the validity of chess as a sport, he requested to have his voice heard on paper.

He sits across me now, taking his first sip of his pomegranate bubble tea. The tapioca pearls dart across his straw, like little black pawns rushing to formation. He’s ready to checkmate this age old debate.

“So, I’d like to start off with how there’s always a Kingco league for every single sport at our school, whether that be football or swimming or badminton, there’s a Kingco league for it and it has all the schedules of all the matches. Now I as a chess player have a spot on the Kingco webpage. The chess league around NSD, that’s part of the KingCo league.”

But does being part of a KingCo league constitute something as being a sport? When I ask him this, he reassures me that there is much more evidence than a mere logical fallacy.

“A lot of people say that physical activity, like making your body stronger, really makes it a sport. So, what is physical activity? It’s just a chemical reaction inside of our body. Now, you see when you think about your strategy for chess, you have to use the chemicals in your brain to create energy throughout your body, to use ATP up basically. To make your mind energy, and that’s what makes it physical.

“So all of this energy has to go somewhere. It goes into my muscles; it makes my muscles bigger from the activity of thinking, and picking up the pieces with my hands. That’s a lot of strain on my muscles, because sitting down for that long puts a strain on them. And that’s what makes me stronger, physically. Do you see this body before you?”

Thomas raises his arms and flexes. I have no words to describe it.

“After I do, I am sweating. My whole body is sweaty because damn, that was a very intense match. It puts strain on your brain, and that makes you sweat. You have to pick up the pieces with your hand. You have to exert a net force onto chess pieces with your hand. Now if that doesn’t count as physical exertion, I don’t know what does.”

By the end of the interview, all that remains in Thomas’s cup is a couple orange-stained ice cubes. The fire in his eyes haven’t died down one bit. He is a man of great determination and stubbornness, one who refuses to adhere to the rules around him. The mighty king remains on the board, at least for this round.