An unexamined life is not worth living.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Chess Dream – Translating Life into Chess Moves

Chess can be a part of our life, but at what point does our life turn into a game of chess? Some describe life as a battle, as a chess game that requires strategic approach, but I am talking here about more than a metaphor, but rather of a person’s mind being so deeply immersed into chess when the distinction between daily life and chess gets blurred.

A while ago I read an interview with Vladislav Tkachiev and realized that he talked about the feelings described very well what happened to me about 10 years ago. Chess was a very important part of my life at the time (it still is). I was a weak chess amateur, but I was living and breathing chess. I was changing my openings, and could not decide if I should continue with my quest to master 1.d4, or go back to 1.e4. One morning, as I was waking up and in the middle of a dream, I got a feeling that my day was about to begin, and my day was my chess game. Almost as I was deciding which foot to put first on the floor – right foot or left foot, I was trying to decide if I should start my day with 1.e4 or 1.d4. My day was my chess game, and I was trying to choose the opening. I will quote Tkachiev here:

Even when I am not playing it doesn't mean that chess leaves my mind. I am speaking with you, but at the same time the position against Kortschnoi is going through my mind. It is difficult to explain: I am talking with you, and everything we say is beginning to translate into chess language. You looked at me, Nf3, the girl over there smiled, Nf6, somebody fell over there, c4. This has not been described, because unfortunately the books about the subject have not been written by real chess players. Let me explain it again: Today I talked with you, I went to the swimming pool, I played a game, I went to the bar, I had dinner. And all this is beginning to be translated into chess moves. Nf3, Nf6, c4, g6. It is on the brink of madness, but I have asked many players and they have the same experience. I translate everyday life into chess moves, and it happens even if I don't want it to. Sometimes I ask myself "are you nuts?" The answer is definitely yes. Well, slightly, but it is true.

Vladislav Tkachiev in 2003

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