Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Welcome to the party.

I have been playing chess since I was seven years old. My brother has has been playing since he was six. 

I don't remember why my father sat us down to teach us the rules and objectives of chess. I'm only glad he did. It turns out he was not much of a player. And within a couple of years my brother and I were both beating him. 


It might have had something to do with my father working 18 jobs at once, trying to go to college at night, and supporting a working class family of 5, on nickels and dimes. 

So my brother and I turned our attention to each other. We have been brutalizing each other for many, many years. Not so much because we love the game, although we do, but more as an outlet for our sibling rivalry. 

With the advent of the interwebs, and Covid restrictions, we play online, and always have a game going. Always.

I'm happy to say I'm almost always winning.

In any case, it's been fascinating to watch America's new streaming obsession, the 7 part miniseries, Queen's Gambit. We're 5 episodes in and thoroughly enjoying it. 

Oh sure the writing is superb. The direction is subtle and engaging. The characters are fascinating. And the set design...oh what do I know about set design?

But as someone with a special love of the game, someone who has won a couple of rank amateur tournaments against a bunch of college stoners, I'm in it for the chess.

Years ago, I got my rating online rating tantalizing close to 1600. To enter any serious tournament now you must have an 1800 or higher. In other words, while I'm good in my head, I'm nowhere near as good in reality. And will never be good enough to play competitively. 

That is not to say I can't keep learning. 

For instance, with my interest piqued I decided to look into the Queen's Gambit Declined opening. It is not a play I'm familiar with. In fact, I have an embarrassing passing knowledge of any of the famed gambits and defenses. I've never been that vested, or nerdy, to start studying chess books like Beth Harmen.

So I decided to play the Queen's Gambit on my brother. I'm pretty sure it threw him off. In monumental fashion. Before long I had total control of the center of the board and leveraged my position to decimate him piece by piece.

In other words, I. Kicked. His. Ass.

In the post game analysis provided by, I was commended (by the computer) for properly executing the Queen's Gambit to my advantage.

Maybe I'll start committing more of my Covid time to the serious improvement of my game. Then I can write more postings about chess. And then the 8 regular readers of R17 will dwindle down to 2. 

And that's only because I force my wife to read it. And I have to go back and fix typos.


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