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There are four fundamental rules of the nature of chess:
A. That chess is empty. Chess leads nowhere.
B. That inorder to seriously play chess, you have to enjoy that it leads nowhere and has nothing to do with anything whatsoever. Chess will never take you anywhere, accept it. In fact, getting serious about it will pretty much insure that you will be not doing a lot of other things, resulting in a real loss of life force otherwise available for other, more constructive concerns and engagments, such as making money, being in and cultivating relationships, health, travel, education, nutrition, leisure, sleep, shedding tensions generally. To be good at chess is not only to hold tension, but to add tension, to cultivate tension, to hold the tension as we like to say. Chess as the greatest chess player of all time, Garry Kasparov once said: "Chess is mental tourture". As Bobby Fischer once said, "I like to see em squirm", and his favorite moment was when he "broke their ego". How true. What is this we are talking about, sadism? Deliberately inflicting pain and ENJOYING IT?? Did you get that one?
C. That at a certain point you will either have to get better at chess, or inevitably will have to seriously consider giving it up. To get any good at chess, you have to loose a lot. A REAL lot. There are always more players, better players, and the higher up you go, the more resistence will you meet, and motivated resistance at that. Serious chess players think about chess all the time, and do nearly everything they can to get better. This is exactly the way chess players are. They are a natural selection, and might as well be in a zoological textbook. Picture the guy who has all the lessons and is so visibly distraught he is throwing his golf clubs, his hat, tossing his golf, "I am ready to go home", or as my friend Charles Kirk (NJ, USCF says, and this guy is among the most profound of all the men I came to know in the New Jersey chess scene, "I hate chess". But he keeps on playing. Who does not recognize themselves, or substitute the words, "I suck at chess". What is suck mean? Picture it. Is it suction?
And if you don't get better, you will want to quit, because lossing so much will be too painful. So you had better get better or you are in for it. Getting better? Not so easy: time, energy, money, sacrifice, discomfort, frustration, disurbance, maybe loss of sleep.
D. Well, the idea of four rules sounded so good, I had to say it, kinda like the Buddha's four fold noble truths:
- The nature of suffering: Life is suffering.
- The way past suffering; Understanding that suffering is caused by attachement.
- That the cessation of suffering is attainable: Cultivating dispassion
- The path to the cessation of suffering lays in the eightfold path: keeping the mean between self-indulgence (hedonism) and self-mortifcation (asetheticism). "Craving, ignorance, delusions, and its effects will disappear gradually, as progress is made on the path."
I just cannot think of a forth law right now, in fact, the first three seems more like two to me, right now.
So this reduces me to peripatetic notes or random musings. Well, OK: chess is very beautiful. We can win a game yet be disurbed or disappointed at its completion for playing badly, when we see all that we missed, or have the charm of victory stolen by knowing just how bad an opponent playeris or, alternatively, a our newest loss can bring pleasure, maybe it might even be one of our best games, where one single bad move ruined it, but we see our improvement, writen in all the moves. "That was a really good game, but I.. made one bad move, then..."
Or we play a friend, and get to sit across from them. Just to sit in someones resonance can be so exquisite, such as I imagine (but decidedly do NOT) folks feel smoking a Cuban cigar or a very fine, very old single malt scotch on the rocks. Exactly that. Like a meditation, or radiation. Cosmic influence if you will.......... smiles. What do the esoteric philosphers, such as Nagarjuna call it, a 'human is a sack of flesh with nine orifices' but I get carried away, obviously. I have never done that before, this is the first. I never lie.
Or you play someone you have known for a long time, respect, but have never played before, and sitting across from the person, get to take "the measure of the man". You find that you really do like them as much as you thought you did, if not like them more, like the way they sit, the way they wrinkle their brow. My friend Bryan Cohen makes all kinds of faces, he does not intend to, but how many faces he makes, his look of trouble, even if he has an advantage, he himself is trouble all the time (he is a very good chess player, better than me). Oh, the worries of chess. One bad move, and its over. Bryan is like Sir Lawrence Olivier, a man on stage, Henry the Eight, Moliere, Racine, Tolstoy, Rabelas, Cervantes, he is Kafka, he is Stanley Kubrik, he is Akiri Kurosawa filming Kagemusha, and I never exaggurate. I never use hyperbolie or overstate things, I am not long winded. No. No one says that. I edit heavily. I work slowly and methodically, I try to rewrite to perfection, for economy of words. The planet is intact. Where was I? Oh, chess, yea:
You get to see their foot shake, how often they get up compelled to get a smoke to prevent their head from exploding or not blow out an aorta heart valve or some other corporeal gaskets, or go to the bathroom, maybe refuse to shake your hand both to start and to finish, or rudely eat at the table of a major tournament, as a higher level, experienced player, who knows what is all about but 'could care less', since it was just announed on an overhead speaker in a large room (42nd World Team Amateur, Parsippany NJ, you know who you are!), chose to do so. I remember you! Oh yes I do!
You either like it or you don't. 'That's chess' as my towering, menacing friend Damon Garret says. Thats what you say when you loose a won game, steal a draw, loss a draw, win a game which is surely lost. Then the fear of replaying losses, yes, thats me for sure. There are games I have NEVER looked at after playing, thats how painfull they are (I am talking USCF rated). The hurt a year latter. I cannot get over it.
Love to all beings, dk