Thursday 22 December 1994
First comes an uplifting tale from the United States of the prison chess programme at the Powhatan Correctional Center in Virginia, which is finally operational following the analysis of results of the 1972-74 pilot study. "The purpose of the current prison chess program," says the official news release, "is to build a statistical base which can be used to demonstrate the value of chess in reducing recidivism and thereby reducing crime!" (Their exclamation mark.)
The success claimed for the pilot scheme is based on the recidivism statistics: of the 44 prisoners who took part in the study, only 10 have returned to prison, a rate of 22.7 per cent, compared with over 70 per cent among all prisoners in state custody in Virginia.
It is, of course, possible that the volunteers for the chess programme were only those least likely to re-offend in the first place - or one might even suggest that a sound grounding in chess strategy has helped them not get caught.
We, however, would never be so cynical, and take the view that chess can undoubtedly have an uplifting moral effect, among law-abiding citizens as well as criminals. We recommend the game to anyone of violent disposition, particularly those inclined to make death threats at dinner.
Another possible explanation of the data from Powhatan is suggested by a report in the Weekly World News. The 77.3 per cent who have not returned to prison may have avoided it because their heads exploded.
According to the 24 May issue of WWN (a journal not famed for scientific rigour) a Russian named Nikolai Titov was playing in a recent tournament when he suddenly clutched his temples and screamed in agony. Then his head exploded, spraying players and officials with blood and brain matter.
They say it's a rare condition called Hyper-Cerebral Electrosis, caused by overloading the brain's electrical circuits by thinking too much. The victims, the report suggests, "were literally too smart for thier own good".
The condition is very rare, and "at this stage medical science still doesn't know much about HCE", but early signs are headaches and eating too much ice-cream. Merry Christmas.
- 1 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 2 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
Ian Brady: Moors murderer announces his support for Ukip and the SNP
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
Bali Nine executions in Indonesia: Death row British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford says she 'just wants to get it over with'
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...
£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This privately-owned company designs and manuf...