As I walk down the long hall of the Hilton toward the rooms setup for the chess tournament, I see people sitting on the few chairs scattered about and some are sitting on the floor waiting. All types, young, old, and all nationalities.
I peek my head inside to see if I can see my friend. The room is filled with chess players seated at tables. My eyes search and scan and then, aha, there he is. Intent—all focus on the board. As I go back out in the hall, a group of young players passes me and I hear one of them tell his buddy, “It’s all psychological.”
I find a chair and plant myself there with a book to read and my notebook to write in. I’ve played chess at a very basic level, never in a tournament, just for fun. I agree that there is a certain degree of psychology involved—a certain degree of self-knowledge that can be gleamed. Are you aggressive, tentative, self-confident, self-doubting, etc? Do you show any bit of emotion or do you keep a stone cold face, masked so that your opponent cannot see into you. Can you see far ahead? How far can you see into the infinite possibilities? If you do this, will they do that, and what do you do if your opponent does something different from what you planned? When you’re in a game, as with life, anything can happen. You can plan, but when you are faced with the next move, you have to dig into your toolbox, apply what you’ve learned of the fundamentals, and maybe even throw in a bit of intuition or creativity.
A young boy came out and his older brother asked, “How did you do. Was it close?”
“I crushed him,” the boy replied. – Wow, no modesty here. The little boy was obviously feeling quite good.
Another man came out and began chatting with his lady friend about his game. “I can’t believe he didn’t see it,” he said.
“Was he surprised?”
“Yeah, he was totally surprised. I took his rook and it was check mate.” Game over.
This man and the same lady began talking about another chess player and how he lost a game because of a bishop move. She said, “A lot of players have trouble with the long range bishop.” I thought to myself, yep, that damn bishop. The same thing has happened to me where I get so focused on the pieces that make shorter range moves, that I lose sight of that long diagonal—the bishop waiting for a misstep. Another great lesson: Don’t lose sight of the whole board and all the pieces.
I think I may be a nervous player, but I don’t show it. I’m not always good at seeing all the possibilities with chess. I have, however, used some of the skills of chess and applied them to other aspects of my life, especially with trying to be proactive at work—to the extent that I anticipate what the boss may do or anticipate what a client may need. I try to stay a few moves ahead, always ready to act, rather than react.
It also feels good that I learned how to play chess years ago because now I might tell myself, “I could never learn how to play” and keep it at that. It sort of reemphasizes to me that I can do and learn anything that I put my mind to. I know the way the pieces move, but my skill level is still rudimentary when it comes to making the pieces work together to the best of their abilities. But a start is a start—to build upon when the motivation is there.