Here are some quotes by by famous English author H. G. Wells.:

“There is no remorse like the remorse of chess. [..] It is a curse upon man. There is no happiness in chess.[source]

“The passion for playing chess is one of the most unaccountable in the world. It slaps the theory of natural selection in the face. It is the most absorbing of occupations. The least satisfying of desires. A nameless excrescence upon life. It annihilates a man. You have, let us say, a promising politician, a rising artist that you wish to destroy. Dagger or bomb are archaic and unreliable - but teach him, inoculate him with chess.” [source]

Why did he make negative statements for about chess seeing as he was an intellectual? These might be his opinions, but it would be interesting to know the basis of those. For the record Wikipedia doesn't have any mention of chess.

  • For the record, a more complete quote: online-literature.com/wellshg/certain-personal-matters/30 Jun 2, 2021 at 8:21
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    Arrogance and Dunning-Krüger may have a role to play here. He probably had lost a game of chess a couple of days before making that quote. Remember, just because something was said by an "Intellectual", it doesn't mean they had a point. In fact, there are some things "so stupid that only an intellectual could have come up with them".
    – David
    Jun 2, 2021 at 8:50
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    @David Do you have any evidence that he "had lost a game of chess a couple of days before making that quote" or just baseless conjecture? Had you bothered to read Wells' essay, you'd have known the quote is literary, his feelings towards chess aren't remotely negative - quite the opposite - and that Dunning-Krüger has no role here. Instead what you wrote could apply with equal probability to anyone who has a negative opinion about chess, and could have been saved by a Google search (billwall.phpwebhosting.com/articles/hgwells.htm). Jun 2, 2021 at 17:49

1 Answer 1


One cannot do better than simply refer you to the work of chess historian Bill Wall on this subject: https://billwall.phpwebhosting.com/articles/hgwells.htm

Wells did not hate chess. He revered it for its power to absorb people, even the most intelligent of people, and captivate them for a lifetime. He followed the games of the top players with avid interest (Henry Bird, Wilhelm Steinitz the first World Champion, and Emmanuel Lasker the second are all mentioned by name in his essay) and particularly enjoyed rapid chess. What you are reading is literary pretence: he was infected by "chess mania" at the time of the essay, and, it seems, never quite shook the bug.

He also talks about how he learnt the game a pretty unique way (at least I'd say): once he knew the movements of pieces, his teacher, ostensibly his father or brother, taught him checkmates first (KQP vs K, etc.). And that way you "always play a winning game in these happy days of your chess childhood" – just the dopamine rush that would make an addict of a new student!

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