Posted by: luvin | February 10, 2009

My Chess Days

My Chess playing (competitive) days was over 25 years ago. But from time to time I would find myself mingling  around players during a tournament, and I could still feel the lure of the game. But this time I am just a plain observer.

Players would often ask me why I am no longer playing, and my standard reply is that I can no longer hold my best game against the young turks, and that to be competitive I have to train hard, spend more time to it, which I can no longer afford due to familial responsibilities and other equally exciting endeavours.

The reason I never pursued chess as a profession hinges both on the pragmatic and philosophic (or say the meaning of it). I love the game, but for practical reason, I decided not to depend on it because in my youth, chess tournaments are held every blue moon. What will happen to my stomach? Yes, in the 1980’s there was hardly any tournament here in the Philippines, and any player dreaming of making it big must be lucky to stumble one generous sponsor, for the player to be able to participate in tournaments abroad. Which would luckily enable to player to gain some prominence or a GRANDMASTER norm, which would enturn be the key to more tournament invitations.

I learned playing chess by watching my father playing it, I was about six (6) then. Luckily, I have a younger brother who was also interested in playing so we played the game by pretending we already know the rules of the game. Only later in my fourth grade when I happen to have a classmate who knows chess when I was properly informed of the rules. From then on to highschool, I was always playing it, one because I want to master the intricacies of chess and second because I was always winning. At fifteen I started reading chess books, and I started playing in tournaments. And as my chess knowledge grows, so is my preocupation with the meaning of life.

I started to ask questions, that Socrates would love his students to ask. Questions that I would later equate with chess. If I become a grandmaster, or at best a world champion,  does it matter to those who do not play chess? If I play chess and learm more about the right moves, will hunger, which is prevalent then, be reduce.

It dawned on me that playing chess will never help grow the plants that would feed the hungry. Worst, it will not be even enough for my self. It will feed my family, it will not feed my future children. It has no real economic or practical value (at least today, with the researches on artificial intelligence, it has a semblance of significance), it offers nothing that would solve the more relevant problems that besets humanity.

That might be a painful realization, at least for me who once dream becoming a grandmaster, for me who had spent years of mastering the game, but then I have to cut clean. On my twentieth birthday, I started to gave away my chess books, and I started to shy away from active play. Today chess for me is just a past time, as it originally once was. I still love it, but it is just a game that I love to play.

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