Chess revisited

Chess revisited

Some will know, I have been a chess enthusiast ever since I was ten and was taught how to play the game by an older boy who had learned the game while in juvenile detention, who emphasized the importance of showing respect for the game and my opponent.

Moving on (via school, youth club and college, where I played friendlies), into the workplace, it was a game I played during lunchtimes and when I got my taste for playing competitive chess in a local league. Some years later, my lodger, who was a decent player, persuaded me to join his club and once again I played competitive chess. Again, a gap of years and I was now approaching retirement, and it happened that Frank Gulley, headmaster of nearby Temple Sutton Junior School (where my lodger had once volunteered to teach some of the juniors) was also involved in a local chess club, that involved juniors and put out teams to play in the local league.

It happened, around then, my nephew had discovered Chess.com (check out here for their website) and persuaded me to play him online, typically games where you were allowed up to 3 days to play a move (a format that suited me). Having renewed my passion for the game, I was able to play several games at the same time against players from all over the world, including playing for teams (one highlight was playing board hundred and something in a 500-board match, for Team England against Team Russia in the World League, and my team beating the Russians). I also joined Frank’s club and played a number of competitive games in the local league. While my achievements were modest, I enjoyed playing the games and with it came the opportunity to socialise and stretch myself mentally.

Then three years ago came Covid and over the board chess was suspended due to lockdown (and then I was not willing to wear a mask) and my local team temporarily stopping playing (at least over the board chess, although some online games were played). I lost my enthusiasm for the game, including Chess.com and via the Internet, but making the exception to play with my great niece and occasional friendlies when opportunities allowed and, I confess, I followed some games on YouTube, including the last (classical) Chess World Championship finals. But then things recently changed.

A young teen I know challenged me a couple of weeks back to play via Chess.com, and I was pleased to discover I could continue where I left off. I noted a number of changes, mostly positive, like post-match analysis. I even re-joined Team England and am currently playing against Team Italy. And I am enjoying it! I have even been signed up to teach youth in a set-up I am involved with and also to play at a homeless drop-in. I had thought my chess playing days were over but am glad I am still able to play and contribute.  

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