Tuesday, September 28, 2004


I went to the gym this morning and did a light workout. I do 20 reps on each machine with either the lowest or next-lowest amount of weights.

I recently was given some stuff my mom had collected over the years: art, school pictures, etc. Also in there was an unopened red recruiting letter from the Marine Corps (this was in 1981, and the high school provided the recruiters with your home address and phone number). On the letter I had written down the moves for a couple of chess games I had played against a chess board with a chess-playing computer chip inside it. That chess game was probably the coolest material gift my parents ever gave me. I used to play it all the time. It would be fun to review the moves I made, but unfortunately the notation is impossible to interpret. For example, black moves first, and then the queens appear to be on the wrong colors. I will continue to try to work it out, and let you know if I do.

Maybe the chess computer was intended to cleanse my dad. Not sure.

My father taught me to play chess. He said we'd make a regular practice of it, a ritual, to play every weekend. I don't at this point recall how old I was, but let us assume 10. He beat me all the time. Not that he was a good chess player. My impression now is that he didn't even know basic tactics. Anyway, his tricks sort of sank in, and one day I found myself playing to thwart each of his tricks before it arose. I started laying tricks of my own. They were pretty simple, like lining up my bishop on the pawn protecting his rook and waiting for the pawn to move out of the way. Most important of all, about this game, was my new-found sense of the value of patience, and of gradually increasing the pressure. I won my first game against him, and to his credit he made a BIG deal of it, he and my mom both praising me. Then, using the same approach, I won each game after that. Probably four more games. Then, the next weekend, I said "Dad, let's play chess!" and he walked away, saying, "I'm not interested in chess anymore."

I still remember looking at his retreating backside when he did that.
Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com