in·teg·ri·ty (ĭn-tĕg'rĭ-tē): Noun.
- Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code.
- The state of being unimpaired; soundness.
- The quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness.
[Middle English integrite, from Old French, from Latin integritās, soundness, from integer, whole, complete.]
Integrity is a term that can be, in the English language, taken many ways. Most people will consider the word in the primary definition, which has to do with one's morals/ethics.
A mathematician or engineer, on the other hand, may take it to mean something completely different. Structural integrity, for example, refers to the completeness or 'soundness' of a structure/mathematical condition. Doctors, as well, may use the term to describe various conditions/states of the human body.
Which one of these definitions applies to chess, you ask? Well, all of them, actually. Lets take a look at each meaning, and apply it to the board (and the game as a whole).
INTEGRITY INVOLVING ETHICS
The primary definition that comes to mind for integrity is the state of one's ethical being. To have integrity would mean that you are known as a trustworthy, honest person. A lack of integrity would, therefore, be a negative connotation.
Throughout the centuries, the integrity of the chess professional has been known as a gentlemanly (or, in more modern times, ladylike as well) quality, and one to be emulated. Modern chess tables see their share of 'John McEnroe' type players, but on the whole the integrity of the chess player is taught alongside the basic rules of the game. Most would agree that a chess player tends to respect their game, their opponent, and anyone the interact with, as well.
Good sportsmanship, the ability to be humble in success and honorable in defeat, is the highest form of integrity in our hobby. When a player can sit back, take a deep breath, and take away something positive from a negative situation and still shake the hand of his/her opponent in appreciation of the completed battle, integrity reigns supreme.
Taking a holistic view, the actions of the individual players magnify the integrity of our hobby (or in some cases, obsession). Good or bad, it reflects on all of us. As such, the integrity of chess is in the hands of each and every player.
My next Casual Gamer will focus on the integrity of the pieces on the board, as well as the overall strategy of play. Join me, won't you?