Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Chilean Miners and Chess Violence

The King is Dead
It should be no surprise by now that I regularly document chess violence.  Chess indeed is a game of egos and some people just can't handle losing - so they resort to violence.  I think losing with grace and dignity and also learning from lost games is a mark of maturity and civility.

I read a very fascinating article about those Chilean miners who are trapped 700 meters underground and are stuck there until December.  They've been trapped down there over a month now.  Due to their extreme conditions and isolation, there are worries now about their psychological well-being.  NASA has even sent a team to help them deal with the isolation.  The rescue team has been sending them provisions, but they are extremely careful not to send any games to them.  Read this:

Most of the miners remain upbeat, but there are ominous signs. Some of the men are already depressed, and a few refused to appear in a video the miners made. They will almost certainly have other problems, which is why officials were careful not to send down any games that might spark conflict. In the 1980s, the Soviet Union banned cosmonauts from playing chess in space after a Soviet researcher at an Antarctic station killed a colleague with an axe, after losing at chess.

It is only going to get worse as the weeks drag on, and the miners are going to have to come up with a set of rules and procedures for allocating scarce resources, resolving grievances, and dealing with deviant behaviour. What they need, in short, is a system of laws. As the 33 unfortunate Chilean miners will soon realize, even hell needs a government.

source: Chilean miners: That far down, who decides what's law?
image source:
other reading: Chess Related Deaths

*UPDATE* just posted a bunch of pictures of the rescue effort.  In photo #26, you can clearly see a bag of dice which is part of a "package" that was to be sent to the 33 miners.  The photo's caption mentions that games were going to be sent.  So there is some conflicting information out there as to whether games are going down there or not.  You can also see in photo #26 that a PSP is being sent down as well.
source: Trapped in a Chilean mine

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