Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Chess and Music

Victor Shen

Ari Minkov lecturing on Chess and Music

Ari Minkov gave a lecture last Thursday at the Kenilworth Chess Club on "Music and Chess" (which is the subject of an excellent online bibliography by John Greschak). His talk raised more questions than it answered, including what the relationship might be between musical Romanticism and the so-called "romantic" style of chess play (a question raised quite eloquently by Scott Massey during the talk). In the end, though, I don't think it is so easy to discuss "the musical elements of a chess game" except by stretching analogies, by which practically all the arts (including chess) could be said to be similar. Among the games that Ari looked at was that of Captain Smith vs. Philidor (London 1790), where Philidor's theories of pawn play are very much on display -- though the final combination (see diagram below) is conducted by the pieces. Philidor, as is well known, was a violinist and composer of the late 18th Century as well as one of the first chess writers of note. Is there a way of interpreting his game as illustrative of both musical and chess romanticism? Or of displaying some musical ideas? I have no answer, but perhaps the reader can supply one....


Black to play.


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