Eat. Sleep. Love. Chess.
There are less than 2 handfuls of activities I've done everyday in the past year; I am not counting involuntary biological imperatives like breathing.
I've eaten, slept, brushed my teeth and somehow washed my body. Of course urinated and defecated, not going to leave that out. I am fortunate, please thank your Deity of choice, that everything has been running smoothly or close to it. No additional details, this is matter of fact, not TMI. *_~
I have also seen someone I love: family, friend, or my incredible girlfriend, in every 24-hour period this last year. Isolation is not good for someone in recovery from manic depression like myself.
And listened to music. (If I build up more faith, maybe I’ll take the leap to try to make it in the music industry. I can definitely sing and write lyrics, and can stay on key – I’ve been playing trombone and reading music since 1994. There is certainly a fear that my passion will not fully pay the bills.)
My primary point is I have also played chess every day this last year. This just hit me today as I hit 1452 in online chess (turn-based format) here on chess.com, I topped out at 1463 in early July last year. I am no master, but at least I am above average, statistically at least. When I tell my brother, sister, mother or girlfriend in person or on the phone that I need to check my games, they know exactly what I’m talking about, and generally give me my space to prevent timeouts unless there is something really pressing. I am also fortunate enough to work a job where I have regular access to the Internet, so if I am eating my lunch at my desk and clients aren’t in my office, almost always I check my games. Homeboy don’t play, son, when it comes to playing chess, metaphorically speaking.
Thanks to the Internet and the well design, upkeep, and maintenance of chess.com, that was all possible.
I like to read for pleasure, do Sudoku puzzles, and watch TV as well, but I have not done any of those 3 every day in the past year. Yes, I am an American-born male who has skipped TV some days. On-demand and DVR gives flexibility. Plus, the news, CNN especially, can be depressing people… Go ahead, sue me Ted Turner. But I bet you’ve said some much worse things about Jane Fonda… ^_^
Anyway, it wasn’t the confinement and limit of activities in prison, or high school chess club that got my skill or interest up to the level it is now, on an average day better than it ever has been in the over 2 decades I have played chess. It was a comprehensive website, well designed for people to play, study, and socialize around chess, that requires skill (including programming!), work, business saavy, and some kindness to run. Yes, kindness: us chess nerds are not always known for being nice people, especially when we are on a losing streak, or want to brag about a solid win. Most of the time, however, I am proud to be called a nerd, and especially a chess nerd. In the mental health organization where I work, I am the IT person for the building (as well the only full-time peer staff when on the clock pretty-much always in the building-barring training or a conference) and the only staff to meet a top 10 FIDE rated chess player; I met Magnus Carlsen in late August 2012, and had the privilege of writing an article on this site about that exhibition in NYC last year.
Let us be thankful that we have this website. Some of us play for free, and a lot of the rest of us who have paid or in my case traded for service (kind of paid indirectly since I paid for the exhibition…) should also be thankful. We have definitely gotten that for which we have paid, and then some.
We have the privilege of fulfilling our chess obsession and gratification – one of the few games here on Earth that there is always more to learn. A challenge that also can be quite frustrating, but often soul-satisfying.
As long as the Armageddon doesn’t happen, next week I will be doing at least one fianchetto, and a whole boatload of intermezzos. That is the beauty of computers, the Internet, and programming nerds.
You know I am a chess nerd when I hear the song “Ebony and Ivory” come on the radio, the first thing I think of is chess. Although Martin Luthor King Jr. was the man, and Stevie Wonder is my favorite blind musician, and Michael Jackson was a genius, may him and MLK Jr. rest in peace.
-Ashley Ian Doyle, avid chess player in recovery from manic depression, and the super admin of the groups The Celts, and Chess & FUN
(time to drop it hard like Skrillex now…)