Click to follow
The Independent Culture
WITH THE Fischer-Spassky match scarcely started, hostilities between Fischer and Kasparov have already broken out.

Bobby opened with a standard, aggressive move, alleging that Kasparov had cheated to win the world title, that all his games with Karpov were pre-arranged, and that Kasparov, Karpov and Korchnoi were all 'the lowest of dogs'.

Garry replied with the French Defence, talking to Paris radio on Tuesday when he described Fischer as 'sick', and his match with Spassky as 'a mediocre contest between has-beens'. As to allegations of cheating, he said, 'It is not necessary to answer such paranoia.'

All of which, for some reason, brings to mind a paper, Chess as a form of recreational therapy, by R Pakenham-Walsh, which appeared in the Journal of Mental Science in 1949.

It is a case study of a chess-playing inmate of Lancaster Moor Hospital diagnosed as suffering from 'recurrent mania'. When traditional methods of treatment failed, the doctors decided to use his considerable skill at chess as a means of re-introducing him to society. A visit was arranged to Lancaster chess club where he impressed them sufficiently to be invited to join their team.

This had the effect of creating a small chess boom among the other hospital patients, who formed their own team. The regular players, Dr Pakenham-Walsh reports, comprised one case of recurrent mania, six schizophrenics, one manic depressive and one high-grade defective. On their first outing, they drew 4-4 with the City club.

According to Dr Pakenham-Walsh, 'the intricacies of chess should have a special appeal for those whose minds are absorbed with abstract problems, particularly schizophrenics'. He concludes by saying: 'I am already convinced that an attack of insanity does not necessarily interfere with the competence of a good chess player.'