Playing Chess in Russia– The Pain of Victory
Russians have a thing for chess and, honestly, are great at it. Being from San Diego, I thought chess was something you put photo albums in.
Playing chess requires thinking ten or twelve steps ahead. If I wanted to understand the Russian mind, I had to learn how to play chess. If absolutely nothing else, it would be a good way to kill time. This I was informed by Robert, an American living in the exact same town as me.
I wasn’t particularly delighted about knowing, but gave up one day after wearying of staring out the window. I had seen the film, “Searching for Bobby Fisher”. What more could I possibly need? How hard could it be?
After beginning the video game, Robert took pity on me after I apparently made some moves that were doubtful. He explained why he was making specific moves and the resulting ramifications for my king. The video game proceeded slowly while he described techniques to his neglectful trainee. Then the magic minute occurred.
I think of every teacher struggles with the periodic embarrassment of being surpassed by a trainee. I want to call it newbie’s luck and conjure up the empirical evidence at horse racing tracks and Las Vegas gambling establishments. If you’re a very first timer, you will constantly win. It does not matter if you’re betting on a horse because of the color design or hitting on black jack while currently holding 19 in your hand. It simply happens.
With our chess video game, Robert had actually made a particular move and was in the procedure of explaining it. I sat staring at the board and thinking reflections, which is to say I was wondering what was for dinner, etc. Simply then, I noticed something on the board, moved my rook and stated, “Checkmate!”
Robert lookinged at the board. Then he started chuckling. Then he wanted to play again. Being a great sport, I instantly announced my retirement as a chess player.
Regrettably, I couldn’t leave my success alone and celebrated to a couple of individuals about it. Make no mistake, Robert would beat me a million times if we played a million video games, however you have to live in the minute!
Within a few days, karma struck and I started to pay for my gloating. Individuals would start appearing at my apartment or condo with chessboards and, obviously, vodka. The video games were so laughably one-sided it was outrageous. Typically, I would make two moves and after that hear “Sah!” which I believe indicated “examine!” in Russian.
My embarrassment happened basically every day for approximately a month. Some of the triumphant would even come back for a 2nd pounding. Lastly, I had to take the significant action of refusing to address the door.
In the end, I set the game of chess back a few century and Robert had his revenge.