Chess by Shelby Lyman

The Buffalo News (Buffalo, NY), February 15, 2014 | Go to article overview

Chess by Shelby Lyman


Although modest in the game's skills, Benjamin Franklin (1706- 1790) had a lifelong passion for chess. And it served him well particularly during his midlife sojourn in Europe where it was an informal diplomatic tool, as well as a cornerstone of his social and amorous life.

Chess, of course, before the invention of chess clocks and rapid chess, was notably time-consuming.

It particular, the game took time away from Franklin's language studies (Italian and French) which he providently saw important to purse in his late 20s.

As he later recalled: "I at length refused to play any more, unless on this condition, that the victor in every game should have a right to impose a task, either in parts of the grammer to be got by heart, or in translations before our next meeting.

"As we played pretty equally, we thus beat one another into that language."

An earlier joust with formal education was not as successful for the reknowned autodidact.

Attending Boston Latin School, the first public school to be founded (1637) in the colonies, he withdrew before completion.

Nevertheless, as is well known, Franklin later joined Thomas Paine, Sam Adams and John Hancock - three other contemporary Latin School alumni - to jointly sign the "Declaration of Independence."

That single act of course was only one of his singular accomplishments.

Not bad for a high school dropout with a time-consuming obsession with chess.

Below is a win by Romain Edouard against Michael Richter from the Bundesliga team tournament in Hamburg, Germany.

Although modest in the game's skills, Benjamin Franklin (1706- 1790) had a lifelong passion for chess. …

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