One way chess is special is that everybody knows what chess is, but a far smaller segment of the population can actually play it.
Chess is a big enough deal that the Fischer - Spassky matches held the world's attention for two months in 1972. And every few years there's a pretty good chess novel. I recommend the overlooked "Queen's Gambit" by the overlooked Walter Tevis. Somebody once called it "Rocky" for smart people.
I can be riveted by any of the preceding, but I can't really play chess. I know how the pieces move, but my grasp of the game drops off sharply after that. A mildly gifted nine-year-old would beat me effortlessly. Today, we're going to probe around the edges of chess. Like a lot of things that you don't follow closely, it's mutating in ways that may surprise you. In other ways, it's essentially the game people have been playing for 525 years.
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**Today's show was produced with help from Yasmin Elgoharry.**