There is no finish line

I wake extra early in the morning and play chess on the Internet. I always have moves to make since I am playing people in time zones all over the world. After I have made all my moves, I feel exhausted, but I study annotated games from books until dawn. By evening, my sleep deprivation curses me.

I have won four games and lost one out of the last dozen games I plan on playing this year. I judge myself to have good chances in six out of the last seven remaining games. There’s one game I cannot solve; I’ll keep trying though.

It has been well documented that chess takes on a life of its own for some of us. Geniuses in the arts and sciences have become obsessed with the game, but never mastered it; ordinary intellects have risen to the height of chess glory. Studies indicate that there is no natural chess genius. The best players have poured heart and soul into the game through endless study and practice.

My chess experience leads me to believe that genius is overrated. You see the splendid performances on the playing field. The thousands of hours of sweat that create those performances are too easily forgotten. Back in the Seventies, when as a casual runner, I decided I wanted to run a marathon. I spent two years running 50 to 60 miles per week getting ready for my first marathon. You would laugh if I told you what my time was in that first one. But it was better than I expected and the experience was exhilarating. I was high for many days after. That was a good start to more racing and marathons and wonderful nights running down gravel roads between the cornfields of Iowa. I remember those hours as some of the best of my life.

I want my chess game to be as my running was to me. I want to study, practice, and work hard at it. If I lose a game, I want to be able to say I did my damnedest. When I play a good game, I want the mental high. I want to hear those internal voices saying, “I did it.”

For many years I had a Nike magazine advertisement tacked to my office wall. It was a picture of a solitary runner running down a country road. The caption said, “there is no finish line.” Maybe, if we firmly believe that, then chance may have it that we can always hope to become better at whatever our passion may be.

I’ll leave it at that for now. I have another move to make against one of my opponents.

Published in: on December 22, 2007 at 12:46 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Once upon a time there was a genius or as close to it as I have ever met in my high school chess club. He played fast, and I usually beat him. And I am far from being a genius.

  2. Nicely written. I like the parallel between running and chess.


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