Musings on the Boogeyman (Bugbear, Boggle or such)
This weekend I will participate in the Portsmouth open in New Hampshire. Since I will not be playing in the top section, I will most likely be paired with the little ones in at least 1 or two of the rounds. Once upon a time, I likened the role to being a Chess Bully or the Grinch ( if the time of year was correct). More recently, I’ve considered myself more of a bumbling Boogeyman.
The origin of this term, according to wiki ( so it must be true)… places this back in the Plantagenet era ( 1154-1485) with origins out of Scotland, with an Etymology from “boggles”, “boggart” and other derivatives. From Germanic roots perhaps, Boggel-mann might be where the idea got started, I’m not sure and its not clear.
The concept is an imaginary being used by adults to frighten children into behaving and usually targets certain misbehaviors like thumb sucking, nose picking or in my case… chess playing while nose picking and thumb sucking. “Bogeyman” can also be used metaphorically to denote a person or thing of which someone has an irrational fear.
So enters the Blunderprone. If the truth be known, I fear playing kids in tournaments because the play is so unpredictable and usually deceptively underrated. Where I am most vulnerable is when I am coming from a lost round and trying to salvage some dignity. In a lot of cases, I play like a caveman with my hair on fire and grab the nearest material only to be the giant slung in a trap by a kid with a slingshot. I’m usually left muttering “ But wait! I’m the boogeyman! Why is this happening to me?”
Sometimes, the persona of fear gets the best of my young opponent as I struggle to draw while at a material loss and keep a face of experience. I slog through a regrouping of my forces, look for the one strength and play defensively until the moment is right where the tide eventually turns.
My own irrational fears about playing against the fresh plasticity of a young student of the royal game is usually what causes me to fail. The tide reverses and I am faced with my own boogeyman of short stature. My biggest vulnerable is the mirror of fear.
Now that I got that out of my system and brought this irrationality out in the open, may it shine the light in my own dark closet and expose the boogeyman myth for what its worth and allow me to just play some good chess regardless of age.