Reductio ad absurdum, which Euclid loved so much, is one of a mathematician's finest weapons. It is a far finer gambit than any chess play: a chess player may offer the sacrifice of a pawn or even a piece, but a mathematician offers the game.

A chess problem is an exercise in pure mathematics.

Chess problems are the hymn-tunes of mathematics.

A chess problem is genuine mathematics, but it is in some way "trivial" mathematics. However, ingenious and intricate, however original and surprising the moves, there is something essential lacking. Chess problems are unimportant. The best mathematics is serious as well as beautiful-"important" if you like, but the word is very ambiguous, and "serious" expresses what I mean much better.

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