Tai Chi And Chess

Interestingly as well, I discovered, he was good friends with Grand Master Cheng Man-Ching, and that they met daily and ‘practiced Chinese chess’ together over a period of 3 years. That two of the greatest exponents of Taiji in the world managed to met daily and only play chess, I find a little hard to imagine.

This fascinating titbit comes from Patrick Kelly’s website. I’m actually rather less surprised, in my experience chess GMs don’t talk about chess that much to each other though it might occasionally crop up in the conversation. There are also marked similarities between Tai Chi and chess in that both are art forms which take a long time to master and fall into the category of ‘self cultivation’. Others include painting, calligraphy and music.

One thing I’ve found is that if someone has mastered one of these then tend to have the right mind set to set about mastering another. So my best chess students have often had a background in music or martial arts.

Chess and Tai Chi seem to be a particularly good ‘fit’ because they develop different aspects of the ‘mind’, chess targeting different aspects of the brain whilst Tai Chi seems to aim more at development of the nervous system. Some people will no doubt disagree but I suspect that Tai Chi fits better with chess than seated meditations because the use of the legs better develops nerve function in the lower torso.

I should note by the way that overemphasising the martial aspects of Tai Chi seems to lead people away from that of personal development. So choose your teacher with care!