Day Forty-Four… Chess

641 words.

When I was seven, I taught myself how to play chess. There was something about the board and the pieces… if I’d known the word at that age, I might have described it as fetishistic. I just liked setting everything up and the way that, after just a few familiar opening moves, you could be into a game like none you’d ever played before. I was so desperate for opposition that I taught my dad to play. And then I entered school tournaments and won quite a few of them. But I didn’t keep it up. Nobody was into it at sixth form, and by the time I got to Bristol, I had other things on my mind, such as beer, girls and writing.

When I moved to London in 1994 and found work that paid better than anything I’d earned before, my head was turned by the beautiful chess sets being sold at the London Chess Centre on Euston Road (recently relocated to Baker Street after 18 years). I bought a breathtakingly expensive weighted wooden set and I’m using it to teach Ethan, my seven-year-old son, how to play.

However, these days, I play most of my games online. There are a number of places to play free chess with people from all over the world. Red Hot Pawn is my favourite. I keep it running in the background and nip in every now and then if I’ve hit the wall with whatever I’m writing. I find something that takes a long time to play (while I was writing The Unblemished in France it was this) helps to subtly unlock the congested bit of my brain that needs to be concentrating on who is doing what to whom and why and how best can I describe that using the medium of words…

If you play chess, and you decide to try out RHP, come and find me and challenge me to a game. I’m Salavaria…

Listened to: Aether by The Necks

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