Tuesday, May 10, 2005


... And so it begins.

I learned chess the old fashioned way -- from a book. In a day and age where super-computers are battling the world GMs for chess supremacy and (as you read this) millions of people are dueling it out in chess games over the internet, it is hard to imagine the chess-world without computers. But to my younger friends, it did once exist.... and not so long ago (I am only 28!). Chess was once entirely in the realm of books. And it is from this medium, where my chess hobby began.

It's a vivid, but convulted memory. Some details are clear, other are vague. I remember the book from where it all began, a small paperback, at least 50 years old (even back then!). It was basic to say the least... covering only the basic chess moves (i.e., no strategy or openings were included). I accidentally discovered the book in some dusty shelf of my elementary school library. I suspect I was in the 3rd or 4th grade at the time.

I was instantly intriqued. After learning the most basic of moves, the next step was equally basic: challenging my dad. These were good memories. I specifically remember him teaching me how to mate with a rook and king. The fact that I needed a lesson proves I was no chess prodigy!!! He would thoroghly beat me, only occasionally letting me win. A perfect father, he only let me win just enough to not lose interest, but never enough to grow over-confident and arrogant... always walking that fine line.

Unfortunately, from these early days of promise, my chess enthusiasm dwindled. It was not my dad's fault. Video games, sports, girls, and everthing else that makes up adolescence took their toll. I would play every now and then, even bought a couple computer programs (had Chessmaster 1 for the original Nintendo Entertainment System), but my interest was, safe to say, marginal. Long before the days of the internet (shout out to Al Gore for inventing it!), one could only play computer chess versus the computer. This generated no interest for me. Strategy games always appealed to me, but only when it was man against man (or person versus person). There was not much fun in playing the computer version of Chessmaster on my old SNES, when I could play much more fun and exciting games -- all with the same computer opponent.

And thus... there was a large portion of my life without the game.