GM Alexandra Kosteniuk, who some unfairly have called the "Kournikova of chess," is interviewed by Misha Savinov at ChessCafe (permanent link here). One memorable exchange between them goes as follows:
AK: Generally, justice is very important to me in everyday life. In chess justice can be obtained, and this is wonderful.
MS: But can justice really be obtained in chess? The game often turns chaotic, when it can hardly be controlled.
AK: Well, this is a global question. Maybe our life is an illusion, who knows? For me there is more justice in chess than in everyday life.
This theme of "justice," which first gets raised in this exchange, becomes a recurrent motif in the interview and seems to get to the heart of her motivation for playing. I wondered if other chessplayers have tried to express in a single word what is most compelling for them about chess? Certainly Lasker famously said that it is a "struggle," and perhaps that word captured his motive. I remember once telling a friend that what attracted me to chess was "truth," since you often can learn the truth of a particular position in chess through close analysis, while in much of life the truth remains always a bit beyond our grasp.
If you had to use one word to capture what interested you in the game, what would it be?