Mark KeenRedditch, United Kingdom
I learned to play chess at the age of 8, when taught by my two older brothers, aged 11 & 13. However, before long, they refused to play against me! In an era before the Internet was invented, I had very few opponents. Unfortunately, my school chess club closed, so I barely played from the age of 11 to 19. I rediscovered chess while at Reading university, playing some games for the university team. After this I played for several teams in Berkshire, and then later in Bristol, and competed in many chess tournaments.
Chess has been interwoven into my life. I have found both joy and frustration, and there have been times when I have tried to give it up - even stopping for three or four years at a time - but always I have come back to the game.
At one stage I had the dream of achieving Master status, but now 49, it seems highly unlikely. However, after a recent year-long break, I have come back to the game, and seem to be playing probably as well, as I ever have. I also seem to have new insight, and a better grasp of how to place my pieces for best effect; so often in the past I would get to the middle game, and be stuck for ideas of how to continue. Now, suddenly, I see plans and opportunities on the board.