He – who emerges in the midst of a chess frenzy

He – who emerges in the midst of a chess frenzy

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Once, when asked how the knight moves, Magnus Carlsen responded: “Like an L. And sometimes in blitz games it can be very unpredictable.”  This was one of those blitz games … 

I was playing a casual match in a park against my friend. I was leading positionally and materially. I had 3 minutes left on the clock. Him – 40 seconds! The game was mine. 

Then, the already too familiar and predictable followed. My friend started to vigorously and quickly move his pieces, hitting the chess clock with such force as if his life was dependent on it. Clearly, he wasn’t going to let me win. Me? Well, I responded in the same manner. I moved my pieces with the speed of light and slammed the clock even harder. Pieces started to fly all over the board. My friend’s pawn moved two squares at a time. That’s how badly it wanted to be promoted! 

Can’t do that! I should have said it right there and then. But no. I was in my own frenzy, probably doing some “creative” moves too, despite the lead in time. It was a whirlwind. Everything was moving too fast.

At some point all four of our hands were hovering over the board, as if we were magicians moving the pieces by some invisible force. A few times, our fists bumped into each other with ferocity. 

Then the unthinkable happened. I don’t know how, but I was left with a bare king and a pawn. My friend – with a king and a rook. With 2 seconds left on his clock, he exchanged the rook for my pawn and declared a draw. 

Fu-dgicles! I was NOT happy! 

Quietly, we packed my chess set and headed towards my car, under the starry sky. Adrenaline was still running through my veins, keeping me warm. My friend broke the silence: “How soon do you think I’ll become a chess master?” I said: “At the rate you’re improving, next year.” Then added: “You’ll outplay me in all of our games pretty soon. I’ll have to find a new friend.” “Don’t worry,” he replied smiling, “I’ll have some alcohol.” Awww…

Reflecting on this game, I was surprised to discover my own chess "rage". Where did it come from? And why was I so upset at myself that I didn’t win? It was just a friendly, no-stakes-involved match after all …

The BEAST! It’s the beast within me – still wild and hungry (yeah, from that time)! It’s the beast within all of us, competitive-by-nature chess players. Sometimes, or most times (!?), we will destroy the chessboard, if we have to, in order to win. And maybe THAT is what it truly takes to become a good player - the beast within. The drive, the fire, the hunger … 

The Afterthought

And now, I ask myself – WHERE was this beast when I needed him the most at the Canadian Open last July? He was so dormant, that my games were rather passive and lame. I wonder if he’s like Captain Underpants who changes into a hero at the specific trigger – the finger snap. What is MY trigger for the release of the inner beast, then? I can’t wait to find out … 

Former Canadian Girls Chess Champion (1999 tied for 1st, 2001 1st place)

Busy mom of two

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