One of my great regrets over the past few years was my self-enforced withdrawal from chess. Shift work militated against me playing on Friday nights when Cork Chess Club meets, but I always hoped to return when the opportunity presented itself.
Now that I’m gone from the Irish Examiner and shift work is no longer an impediment, I returned to the club last night – the scene of a few triumphs and many failures. And what a happy few hours to see so many familiar faces and be greeted warmly. It was as if I had never left.
Of course I was as rusty as hell, and was quickly making a fool of myself, making unsound sacrifices in my usual devil-may-care style. I threw away bishops, knights and rooks with abandon, elementary errors that cost me every game I played, but I didn’t care – I was back to continue my love affair with a game I have always loved.
A chess game is like life – full of surprises. You think you are in command, then out of nowhere your opponent makes a move you hadn’t foreseen. Every so often a player who is rated much higher than you makes the fatal error of taking victory against you for granted, slips up and then cannot extricate himself from disaster. Those are the games you live for, and in the last club championship I played in I managed three wonderful victories over higher rated opponents that won me the Goliath prize (€50 folks).
I’m a pretty ordinary player and maybe if I studied the game more I might be more successful. However, on the board – and in life – I never let failure get me down. At least not for too long. You pick yourself up and move on. Which is what I do no matter how big the setback. after all, you never know what that next game might bring. Which is why I’ll be back at the club next week for more punishment – and I can see everyone queueing up to beat me. Bring it on.