This game started in the Muslim sphere of influence, near Pakistan, and has spread to all parts of Europe. NAZI Germans played it during WWII and during the Cold War, Russia included it in the elementary school curriculum. Even here in the United States, it is highly approved of in West Point, and among top Pentagon officials, many of whom play it recreationally. Its role in espionage and cryptography is well-known.

Yet, it is also associated, more than any other game, with psychotic and violent behavior among its players. Many players become obsessed, and play online for hours at a time, racking up game after game after game. Not a few of its acknowledged masters, or shall we call them "grand" masters, have been institutionalized (though one reached political prominence not so long ago). It is played extensively in prisons, sometimes even openly. Often, adult players report having been taught to do so as children by older relatives.

It's widely known that games such as Quake, Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty are promoted by the Department of Defense to inure soldiers to the act of killing, much as how farmers are known to become immune to the death throes of animals, and often show sociopathic, even homicidal, tendencies as a result. Brain studies have shown that playing violent games light up the same parts of the brain as crack cocaine, gambling, and pornography. This game raises or shall we say, lowers the bar by allowing and even encouraging players to lead to slaughter (or in the parlance of the game "sacrifice") their own men -- players are lauded for their coolheadedness in doing so.


If this game is found under the Christmas tree, take it away, and explain that this is a very boring game that they won't like anyway. Substitute a more positive gift, perhaps one that deals with sports (if a boy) or a Princess theme (if a girl). If this game is being given by a relative, it's imperative that you at least speak to them about the inappropriate nature of the gift, though they might not understand exactly how serious the situation really is. If they persist in insisting that their actions were, in fact innocent, limit contact with that relative, and if they're elderly, try to look into counseling for them.

Yes, it's true that some people will try to defend this game, especially people who are or were excellent players. Ask them how many hours they spent wasting their life that way when they could have been volunteering or teaching, if they are indeed so intelligent to play this admittedly snobbish and elitist game. Don't be fooled into thinking this is some kind of brain trainer, or worse, mathematics. Analysis of the game has yielded nothing of the kind, being instead rote memorization of positions -- mastery is only achieved through large amounts of play.

Many websites feature this game, and game software is even given away for free. Adding game sites to the blocker on your family computer is a good step. See if your children's friends play, and if so, talk to their parents. Approach the local school board, and see if you can't get the game banned from school property. Keep an eye on your children at Barnes & Noble, since they're known to sell game related books. Talk to the store manager, and see if he's willing to keep these books behind the counter.

Remember, it's your child's future on the line....

Who am I trying to fool? It's Chess.