A look at my experiences with the deepest, most complex game I’ve ever played.
“Nowadays, when you’re not a grandmaster at 14, you can forget about it.” – Viswanathan Anand
I started playing chess at the age of five. I began to compete in tournaments at six, winning my first tournament ever. I still have that trophy, made up of wood and marble. To win the tournament I defeated a slew of opponents older and bigger than me. I can only imagine how I must have looked, weighed down by that shiny object as I marched proudly out of that G.A.A hall accompanied by prouder parents.
I continued to play during those early years, competing in tournaments and picking up a fair few few medals and trophies. I won an all Ireland championship before I turned nine, and represented Ireland against Sussex in the under eight category. Chess wasn’t the be all end all in my life, but it was a big part.
“You can only get good at Chess if you love the game.” – Bobby Fischer
I was fortunate enough to attend a primary school with a thriving chess club. The woman in charge, Shirley, hooked countless children on the game by luring them in with bribes of lollipops and Tayto crisps. They all came for the sweets, but stayed long after the sugar wore off. I learned a lot in those classes on a Wednesday afternoon, mostly through playing, playing and more playing, but my parents taught me originally.
I loved that club, and being a member of their team because it meant I got to leave during school to play against other teams. Leave school! For a game no less. It was fabulous. Unfortunately is was fated to end.
“We don’t really know how the game was invented, though there are suspicions. As soon as we discover the culprits, we’ll let you know.” – Bruce Pandolfini
We moved when I turned ten. This in itself was not a bad thing. I made new friends, experienced new things, got a different perspective on life. However, there was something missing. No chess! No clubs, no tournaments, no nothing. I resorted to online play, and we made it to one tournie a year in Dublin if we were lucky. My passion for the game ebbed away as it withdrew abruptly from my life. The game that had taught me so much about focus, skill, determination, stamina and tactics was absent from my life.
“Chess can help a child develop logical thinking, decision making, reasoning, and pattern recognition skills, which in turn can help math and verbal skills.” – Susan Polgar
I found comfort in Bridge, the card game, but always preferred the solo aspect of chess, it’s slow and layered matches. I’ve grown to love Bridge almost as much as chess, but I continue to miss the 64-squared board and my two ranks of personal soldiers. Online chess felt too detached and robotic, not to mention agonizingly slow.
“The biggest problem I see among people who want to excel in chess – and in business and in life in general – is not trusting their instincts enough.” – Garry Kasparov
Chess was such an important feature of my earlier years that I intend to return to it in later life. It’s such a huge sport all over the world that no matter where I end up, there’s a good chance I’ll find a club somewhere nearby. For all you video gamers out there, I urge you to try out this most magnificent of games. It truly is one of mankind’s greatest creations.