Preparing for return to OTB tournament

Preparing for return to OTB tournament

Jun 22, 2011, 12:01 PM |

Time to tackle the reason I have been unable to play OTB for so long.

People look at the physical symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis and see a limp and a stick. A few months ago my physio, after 6 months of pleading with me to stop trying to haul this carcass around the planet, finally persuaded me to get in a wheelchair. I fought against it so hard I exhausted myself. Now safely enconsed in my wheels I have the energy to confront my other and main MS demon, scary and bewildering as they can be.  


Even before diagnosis I often suffered extreme fatigue during tournaments and what, as an MSser, I now know to be COG FOG, a sort of brain short circuit where the neural pathways cross and speed up and slow down at random.

At my last big tournament I collapsed at the board, had to withdraw and spent the afternoon in A&E where once again they missed the real cause.

Now post-diagnosis after years of tests because vast as my physical symptoms are they pale into insignificance next to the effects on my mind. First up they reckon I have lost 10 IQ points but the doc was quick to point out I have plenty to spare! Also, because the MS damage is in my central lobes, I have difficulty planning and organising, pretty essential in chess! My empathy pathways are full on open or shut, no inbetween at all. My neuro says the reason I can play at all is that I started so young, four, chess is ingrained in my psyche and the stuff I studied and learned pre 17 years old are immovable and are very strong memories.

In order to take in new information I was taught to use that long term memory to do, and in some ways bypass, the short term memory thinking.

To compete in a tournament again I will have to use all the techniques to absorb the new info I will need and the meditation I have used for years to combat MS in order to think and concentrate for the long matches ahead.

This blog will follow my battle. The video above sums up my attitude to this disease. A chess tournament is my back flip. Pictures come courtesy of my inspiration, my wife, Birthe, without whom there would be no fight left in me at all. 'Til next time when I mix chess, psychology and the human spirit farewell dear Readers.