The Open File
by Life Master Mike Petersen (Zug)
Winning and Losing
One of the things we all learn as we grow older is good sportsmanship. You know: being gracious and humble when you win and being congratulatory to the victor when you lose. But I don't know. Every chess game I've ever seen has one disappointed player and one happy player, even if it's a draw. Did you ever wonder what REALLY goes through the heads of the players when the crucial moment arises in a game?
Well, I only know what goes through MY head, and this seems as good a time as any to finally be honest about it. Winning can sometimes be "expected", like when I defeat someone hundreds of rating points below me. Then there are the times when winning is a real high, like when I defeat someone rated at least a hundred points higher than me. Man, when I win a game like that, I want to strip down to my jocks and run around the table whooping like Tarzan. The only thing that keeps me from it is a basic fear of the guys in the white coats with butterfly nets.
Losing, however, is another kettle of fish. The sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when I realize I'm lost can't be described. If you've felt it, you know. If not, well, either you don't play chess or you never lose. Losing to someone rated a lot higher than me isn't so bad, but losing to someone rated under me is almost more than I can stand. Instead of smiling and shaking his hand, what I really want to do is make him look like Beetle Bailey after Sarge has gotten through pounding on him.
Imagine if we all acted out our fantasies during these stressful moments. We'd probably start attracting all the wrestling and hockey fans. Chess would become a spectator sport, like the last two minutes of a basketball game. Instead of TD's, we'd have TR's (tournament referees.) No longer would players have to worry about things such as Topalov's stare or the Carlsen "fear factor." They'd have to sweat out things like players who look like Godzilla sitting across the board, who cast a shadow over the entire board when they reach out and move a piece. Geez, maybe we'd have to have tag team chess matches: one guy to make the moves during the game, and another to make the moves AFTER the game. Maybe now I know why Chess Boxing was invented!
Fortunately, though, reacting the way I'd love to is all fantasy. But once, just once, I'd like to act out my Tarzan fantasy, regardless of the guys in white coats. And, after emerging from my several week stint in the rubber room, I'd feel like a new man.