One can read the way a person lives his or her life by how they play the game of chess. Chess has always been a fascinating experience for me, but it has never been about winning. I do not care if I win. I crave the beauty of sitting across from another person for a few hours in a mental push and pull. The beauty of chess best come out with players who are equals, as that is where the challenge become intense and dynamic. By playfully engaging with another friend you can see how he would attack, block and strategize his way through combat. Maybe he is into blitzkrieg and will toss it all at you immediately. Maybe she is coy and pretends to be weak to lure you into corners. Perhaps the game becomes boring and he will sacrifice himself in lieu of being patient. Sadly, most people have no time to play with me; people are too busy with emails and shopping. Chess is a reflection of our inner gods and demons.
The worst experience for me is to play people who merely throw a series of pre-learned moves onto the board to dominate you. Mathematics and rote learning reveals nothing more than that your opponent is void of originality and risk-taking. Chess should be played like our lives: a series of problems are put before you, so play without thinking too many moves ahead. The fun comes from seeing the risks you could not see before.
I have not played in four years. When opening up my boxes I came across the set of carved pieces I purchased in Delhi, India about 8 years ago. It was time to bring the set down, despite the realization that Mingus thinks they are treats to eat. I have two sets. One is a metal set of Greek gods in statue form that my ex-wife bought me for Christmas a decade ago. The second set is wood done in a Colonial style that makes you ache at their beauty. The wooden board twisted and is gone, but my metal board fits the pieces.
Since the age of computers, chess lost its lustre for me. Yes, I learned a bit about how to play from the machine in the early 90s, but it is the human connection that makes chess exciting. The story of Bobby Fischer still fascinates me: a giant at a time when other intellectual giants such as Glenn Gould also walked. I am no Bobby Fischer. In fact, I prefer to keep my knowledge of the game rudimentary so that I may enjoy the thrill of the chase. Another box is open, and left open.