The martial art of chess, the master and the student.

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The martial art of chess, the master and the student.

Postby fivedragons » Tue Oct 06, 2015 12:16 am

My parents divorced when I was in the 2nd grade. Shortly after he moved out, my father gave me one of the chess sets he had brought back from Korea, when he was stationed there as an army doctor during the first years of the '70's. I still remember the smell of the wood and sandstone when they were opened up, to reveal the beautifully carved warriors.

My father has always been of another world, even though I was his son. He came from a large blue collar Irish Catholic family that lived in a small house in New Haven, CT. He gave up a writing scholarship to the University of Iowa in order to become a doctor of emergency medicine, only to become a published poet in his later years. He is my hero, but I was never cut from the same cloth. I never had the laser focus of his intellect, the certainty of my destiny in the world. My life has been a succession of blunders and misadventures. :lol:

Every time we were together, one of us would inevitably suggest a friendly game of chess. It was a sacred ritual that we shared.

My father would tell me stories about Bobby Fischer, and the Russian grandmasters. He had many books detailing the great plays and strategies of the ages. I would play it as a game of intuition, a mystery of infinite possibilities. I always ##### lost. :lol:

All of my life, for years and years I lost to this dude, but I never stopped enjoying the game. It was really just a matter of "how will he beat me this time?", even though I entered every game with the intention to finally reverse the trend.

I never played chess with anyone else, I was not a chess player. But it was something we shared. After 3 decades I won. Once. It was one of the happiest moments of my life, but I couldn't have done it without the help of my father. After all, I learned from one of the best.
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Re: The martial art of chess, the master and the student.

Postby Bill Glasheen » Wed Oct 07, 2015 8:45 pm

Father-son competition is a good and hopefully healthy thing. This is particularly true when the process of doing the activity is a bonding one irrespective of the outcome.

Chess is part intuition and part memory. All the great masters have an encyclopedia of partial games in their heads that they remember and can execute automatically from a certain point forward. However the beginning offers a near-infinite possible number of permutations. The only way to proceed as the game is developing is to be able to conceive the game more and more moves ahead. That difficulty goes up an order of magnitude with each number of future moves. If you're playing your average person, it's no big deal to be competitive. If you're playing someone with a mind that can see the game far ahead, it's difficult to stay in their league. This is when a little bit of dumb luck (accidentally making optimal moves at key points) can help.

All of this is weightlifting for the brain, the heart, and the soul.

- BIll
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