Mathematics is a term discussed to be one of the most important ways of knowing for humans. Yet this learning can be compared to many different things: art, paintings, music, literature, yet also a game. Mathematics can be described as similar to a game because they have many fundamentally similar things. For example, Chess. Mathematics is very similar to chess for several reasons, the first, is that in both math and in chess the rules are arbitrary, second, both are abstract, third, both are deterministic and lastly, they each have an elaborate technical language[1]. These four similarities allow for the comparison of mathematics to a game devoid of extrinsic meaning. (Where extrinsic means outside of itself).

The first comparison of Math and Chess is that the rules are arbitrary. This is easily proven, as Chess has a distinct set of rules that cannot be changed when playing the game. A knight will always move w squares in one cardinal direction and then one square over, and can always “jump” over pieces. A king will always be able to move one square in any direction (unless that will move him into check or if it is a castling move). These rules of the game create the game known as chess. The rules themselves however are totally arbitrary, one person, long ago, created the game of chess based on nothing but his own ideas of a game to play. Due to this, Chess can be modified-checkers, or a version of chess where you try to lose, all exist simply by changing a few rules. Similarly, in Math, the rules that determine how the math is done are the Axioms from which that math stems. If these axioms are followed (like the rules of a chess game) then a game can be played, and math can be extrapolated to create theorems etc. In addition, just like in chess, the rules are arbitrary, for the axioms can be altered of fully changed, and this will result in a new kind of math- for example non Euclidian geometry. Then, these new axioms result in their own “game” and are played. Thus, both math and chess have arbitrary rules.

The second comparison between the two is that they are both abstract. At first, this is a shock, as we are used to playing Chess on a board with pieces, and math always comes with a piece of paper and something to write with. However, chess can be played completely in the mind. The board can simply be visualized; the pieces set up and moved. There needs to be no board to play chess, and it can manifest itself in the mind of the player(s). Similarly, mathematics does not require anything other than the mind to create and discover. Based on Poincare, math can simply be thought about, and then the subconscious mind will work out the problem to create theories and new ideas about math, there needs to be no work done in the real world, everything can be done in the mind.[2]

Thirdly, both mathematics and chess are deterministic, meaning that no matter what, everything in math and chess has been done before, or can be done, and will be done again. For example, in chess, every way a knight can move will always be the way a knight can move, and every move that a player may make, has been done by a previous player before him, and will be done by players after him. Thus, chess is never truly a new game, just a potentially new combination of plays, but in ways that can go on infinitely, so in turn a game has never truly ben played the exact same way (mostly). Similarly, mathematics has the same idea, for everything that you can derive from math stems for the axioms that govern it. Therefore, everything done in math has already or can be done, and is not truly new. Just like chess, the moves have been done, and maybe the procedure is different or the combination is, both are deterministic.

Lastly, both math and chess have an elaborate technical language that is used to express themselves and to simplify and unneeded terms. A simple example is the movement of pieces; say for example the movement of a “pawn to a5”. Similarly, in math, the language of 2+2 is a way of simplifying an expression. Instead of having to explain each term, in both math and chess, we generalize the terms and use them in a language in order to express our ideas.

Yet overall, what does this mean? Even if math is like a chess game, so what? Well, this comparison allows for the analysis that math is infinite, because a game will exist as long as it is played and passed down for other people to play. In addition, it favors the creationist viewpoint of math because people created games, and if math is like a game, then people created math, and without us, neither can exist. The comparison allows for the analysis of where math comes from, but more importantly where math can go, and like a game, the possibilities are endless.