Thursday, May 23, 2013

Training for the Hales Corners Chess Challenge XVIII

Long story short -- I promised the chess femmes that I would play in the Hales Corners Chess Challenge XVIII.  I just noticed tonight, how could I have missed this? - that Challenge XVIII is scheduled for October 12, 2013.  That is the anniversary date of Don McLean's death (my Mr. Don). 

What was I thinking???  Surely I knew that date before I made my promise?  Oy!  How could I have committed to playing in a chess tournament on the anniversary date of Mr. Don's death.  What was I thinking?  But - my memory isn't so good these days, which puts paid to trying to become a championship level chessplayer at this point in my life, har!  Perhaps I had a good reason for saying I would do this, I just cannot remember it right now.

Ach!  Well, I've lost my mind many times over the years, and maybe it happened to be lost at the time I made the promise that I would appear and play at Challenge XVIII.  But I keep my promises, insane or not.  It's a personal thing, and a family thing too.  Grandpa Newton was very big on giving one's word and then keeping it, no matter what.  These days giving one's word is a "sport" ala "Survivor," which has popularized lying with a phoney smile on one's face to someone who decides to trust you, all for the sake of winning fithly lucre. 

Anyway, just a little while ago tonight I realized, while checking the date for Challenge XVIII, that I will, in fact, be playing in a chess tournament on the anniversary of Mr. Don's death.  And I don't know whether to cry or to laugh. 

Be that as it may, I have been "in training" since shortly after whatever date it was that I said I would play in Challenve XVIII.  My buddies, Ellen Wanek and Shira Evans Sanford, are my chessly sparring partners, and right now I have a game going with a player at that I do not know.   I've lost every single game I've played since the start of my training, and it's really ticking me off, let me tell you! 

How could I have hung a rook on my back rank - it was like move 12?  Geez Louise!

And I resigned my last game against Shira when I could see checkmate in 2.  I mean, at that point, what's the point in playing to ignominious checkmate, I ask you! 


Yes, I've thought about quitting, and now I have a very good excuse, don't I.  But after licking my bruised ego for a few days for being such a crappy hopeless chessplayer -- and who DOES NOT hate to lose???? -- I challenged my buddies to new games and we are slogging along once again.  Ellen keeps talking about openings and I'm like "What?????"  Finally figured out, with her gentle prodding, that pawn to d4 as an opening move is a Queen's Opening.  DUH!

Oh, I also know (I think) that white's first move pawn to e4 is something called the Ruy Lopez, after a dude who lived in the 16th century (or was it the 17th century?) and was a very famous chessplayer of the day.  I could probably write a credible essay on Ruy Lopez and his influence on the modern game of western chess and earn an A from a non-chessplayer.  Doesn't mean I know squat about playing chess, though.

And I don't know squat about playing chess.  I ask myself all the time, how can that be, since you dream up the most brilliant games and are many times world champion, kicking the butts off players such as Shirov, Anand, Kasparov, and Carlsen is now in my sights...

Alas, dreams are not so easy to translate to the reality of the 64 squares in the light of day.  Since I seem to have next to no memory these days (sad to say), even if I desired to memorize certain moves and sequences of moves, I do not know that I would be able to do so.  But I see no practical reason to desire to try to memorize sequences of moves in an attempt to recognize "patterns" of play and how to respond thereto.  I seriously lack motivation, other than to assuage my own ego.  And right now, darlings, ego ain't winning this battle.  How to reconcile the reality of my limited brain capacity, my limited amount of time to devote to learning (and do I want to?) and my overall lack of chessly skill with my generally competitive nature - well I guess that's a question for Plato or Aristotle, but both of those dudes are dead.

Doesn't sound very promising, heh?  LOL!  So, I'm slogging along, losing game after game after game, and I'm pretty sure I'm not learning a thing.  Well, I did learn that d4 is a Queen's opening.  Thanks, Ellen!  Does that make a whit of difference to me or my chessly abilities?  Nah.  Not when I cannot remember the same moves that I must have played dozens of times over and over already, all to the same losing result.

Now I'm just moving pieces here and there, well -- try this Jan, try that Jan. When desperate, one is willing to try crazy things and frankly darlings, right now, I've no idea what is going on in any of my chess games except they all seem to be quite insane.  Not that I'm the sanest person to begin with, mind you.  I haven't the foggiest idea what I'm doing except trying to use the simplest and yet complex rules of Susan Polgar's learn how to play chess lessons to infants aged 2 and under: always guard your pieces with placement of your other pieces, always look for a way to attack, use retreats strategically.  Ok.  Makes perfectly good sense.  Got that?  NOPE!
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