9) Tournament chess is not a long-drawn-out affair.
Since the introduction of the double-face time clock around 1880, most tournament players must make an average of one move every three or four minutes, or from 15 to 20 moves an hour. These moves may be saved, however, so that a player may make six rapid moves and then deliberate for 10 minutes on a complex line of play. Like the bridge expert, the chess master plays automatically much of the time—and, again like the bridge expert who spreads the hand and claims the rest of the tricks, the chess master will quickly announce "mate" in three or four moves, to save time.
Among the famous quickie games since 1890 are World Champion Lasker's loss in 14 moves to Caro at Berlin. Tartakower, a Grand Master who has written a score of books on chess, was checkmated by Réti in 10 moves.
10) Chess is not a difficult game to learn.
If this statement, which is generally received with snorts of derisive disbelief, is true, why then does chess seem so difficult to the observer?
Try taking a foreigner to a baseball game, and the reason will become evident. He is bewildered, and he should be. Nobody teaches a child to play baseball by putting him on third base in a full-dress game. A boy is first taken out to the yard and taught to throw and catch a ball with only one other person. Then he is taught how to swing a bat—and only after he has mastered the rudiments of throwing, catching and batting is he permitted to enter a game.
Chess has earned its dreadful reputation as a difficult game almost wholly because it is badly taught. As long ago as 1901, H. G. Wells pointed out in an essay, "Concerning Chess": "Chess is taught the wrong way round. People put out the board before the learner with all the men in battle array, 16 to a side, with six different kinds of moves, and the poor wretch is simply crushed and appalled.... But clearly this is an unreasonable method of instruction. Before the beginner can understand the beginning of the game, he must surely understand the end; how can he commence playing until he knows what he is playing for? It is like starting athletes on a race and leaving them to find out where the winning-post is hidden."
Most people's reaction to chess depends primarily on their initial introduction to the game. Many potential players have probably been ruined by overzealous parents and teachers who wanted their charge to progress too fast and succeeded only in turning the game into a chore or, even worse, a bore. It, of course, needn't be—unless you happen to meet that elderly gentleman with the graying beard and bifocals, sitting in his stodgy club, sipping on brandy and acting out his part as the profound thinker, the master of mathematics and the supreme strategist, all rolled into one. It is then you must stop to remember he is only a myth.