Sunday, May 18, 2008

Don't Forget To Smell The Roses

It's funny how playing chess can teach you things not found in textbooks.

I've been working in the IT industry for more than 10 years and the experience I obtained from my job is fairly predictable and thus, rather mundane.

Lest it be misconstrued, I like my job. I've been extremely fortunate and blessed to be employed in a position where I thoroughly enjoy my work.

This is why I took up night studies, not to further my career but rather to learn something new, something different, something outside of what I normally encounter at work. It energises my mind and gives me something to look forward to and helps to remove part of the normality of my working life.

Chess is a different beast altogether.

Why waxing philosophical all of a sudden you may ask? This was brought about because of something my brother-in-law Steven wrote on my birthday card. In it, he reckons I will beat him very soon if I continue my rate of progress (I've only started to play my first tournament and my results have been nothing except ordinary IMHO) but I doubt it very much.

This got me into thinking:

Is chess really that important in my life? I confess that it's a hobby that I enjoy very much and thus, I tend to spend an inordinate amount of time on it - at times, way too much, much to the ire of my wife.

And that's the problem with chess. It requires your constant attention to keep it growing.

So why am I so infatuated with chess? I found out why.

Chess is ultimately a test of skills, or for that matter, mental skills. It combines all the mental abilities of alertness, intelligence, responsiveness to change etc. into one neat package.

I discovered that chess itself is not interesting enough to sustain me and keep up my interest over a long period of time. It's a very good puzzle solver, no doubt.

But I found that it is the experience I got from playing opponents over the board that draws me in. I got to meet really interesting people on my personal journeys in chess. Some good, some bad.

I realised that after my first tournament was over, what I liked about the tournament was not the result but the journey. In addition, over the course of those 9 weeks, I learnt something more about myself; about my character, my fears, my anger, my disappointment, my joy. This was something I could not get from other games, like playing Monopoly or solving my daily Sudoku puzzles.

I really could not care less about ratings - I'm destined to be patzer-boy and I know I would never make it to Master level or ELO 2000 because the amount of time needed to study and practice chess to make it to that level would extract far too much time from me than is possible.

Know thyself, as they say.

For now, I enjoy the journey. But because I have only 24 hours in a single day, I know that life is much more than just chess and that I should from time to time, stop and smell the roses. This is pretty much why of late, I've gone into a somewhat semi-recluse state, spending time away from chess and not putting as much drive as I did a few months ago.

Perhaps one day, my passion for chess will die but what does matter is that my passion for life does not. Life goes on and at that time, chess will be nothing more than a mark in my personal journey.


  1. beautifully said. pls accept brief words, not viewed as indifference. i am exhausted, 100% tired. working a lot of days in a row. be well, and than you. dk

  2. Nice post please pass me a hanky. lol

    I hope you don't lose your passion for chess any time soon.

    Catch you Wednesday *groan* misses another State of Origin due to chess. hanky please!

  3. dk: thanks. i'm still recovering from my illness. i've been suffering from low blood pressure since Sunday and it pretty much wrecks anything. i suspect it was brought on by a small case of stomach flu. i'll get the picture for you soon. sorry for the delay.

    matthew: thank you very much.

    bergil: very funny. i dun think i've lost my passion for chess (maybe one day when i'm 65 or something), just that it was more of a case of time-out for me the last few weeks. btw, why not record the State of Origin on tape? you can still catch it when you get home. it's not equivalent to watching live (which is inherently more exciting naturally) but it's not that bad - just remember now to watch the news. :)