This afternoon, I ran across this bit in Thomas Kuhn’s interview with Werner Heisenberg:
[Arnold] Sommerfeld would always have very definite opinions as to what people should do and should not do. And so also about this game of chess. He said, "Well, you shouldn't waste your time by playing chess. If you do have that kind of effort, then you'd better do physics; if you want to have some recreation, you can go skiing."
A tiny bit of background: Sommerfeld was a physicist famous for training a number of the leaders of the quantum physics revolution, though he himself was definitely old school (and actually a mathematician by training). But I’m curious here about the attitude regarding chess. Was there a sense that chess was (or is?) a game that is mentally draining rather than diverting? Or is it only so among players of a certain skill level, a certain ambition, or what?
What I’m trying to understand is whether Sommerfeld is expressing an example of a more general understanding in early 20th century Continental scientists (or educated people generally) about recreations that were actually restored your mental energy and left you able to resume work, versus recreation that further drained you.