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Should your "better half" play chess?

  • GM Gserper
  • | 3 feb. 2013
  • | 36453 x bekeken
  • | 127 reacties

In my column "Pros and Cons" I discuss the subjects that have no clear answer. Are doubled pawns good or bad, is an isolated pawn an asset or a liability, what's better a Bishop or a Knight?  The answer is the same to all these questions: "It depends!"  

Today I want to express my opinion on a subject which doesn't involve pieces and pawns but is very important for any chess player.  Do you want a soul-mate who is as avid about chess as you?  Of course the answer is still the same: "it depends". Intuitively you want to have a significant other who shares your passion for chess. I remember when I was a teenager, I was absolutely sure that my future wife would play chess (and I mean play well!). But slowly I moved to a totally opposite camp whose motto is "opposites attract", and their favorite joke is "one chess player in a family is already way too much". It was a long transition  but I can say that I am happy with the results as I managed to appreciate the little things in life that you tend to miss while being  obsessed with a tiny world of 64 squares. I learned that your partner doesn't need to be familiar with the Sicilian in order for both of you to enjoy a sunset, and a tasty meal (my wife is an excellent cook) doesn't require knowledge of basic endgames. Let me tell you about the exact moment of my transformation.

The year was 1999 and I was playing the US Championship in Salt Lake City (it is an extremely beautiful place by the way, so if you never been there, you definitely should check it out!). I was playing the semi-final match against GM Alex Yermolinsky and pretty close to winning my game and going to the final. Then time trouble set in, and to my horror I blundered my extra pawn. At the end I had to play accurately not to end up in a worse position. Judge for yourself:



So instead of winning the game and the match I had to play a tie break. As all chess players know too well, after such a horrible miss, a sleepless night was all but guaranteed! And here is where the miracle happened--a beautiful girl came to me and asked why I didn't capture my opponent's piece.  "What piece?", I asked. "This one", she replied and showed the palm of her hand with her fingers spread out. At first I didn't understand what she was talking about, but then it occurred to me that she was talking about the Queen, since this was exactly what the Queen looked like on a demo board.

Queen.jpg

Initially I wanted to explain to her her that I wish I could win my opponent's queen, but it was impossible to do, and then realized that it makes no sense to provide chess variations to a girl who didn't even know how the chess pieces were called. I was speechless. I still vividly remember the way she showed me the queen with her palm.  It was so funny, naive, and cute! No chess playing person would have been able to eliminate my stress in literally 2 seconds! Needless to say I slept that night like a baby thinking about that beautiful queen. The next day I won the match.

If this little story hasn't convinced you yet that a professional chess player needs a non-chess-playing spouse, here is an episode from another US Championship. By that time that beautiful girl was already my wife and knew all the pieces, but was still blissfully unaware of en passant, stalemate, and other mundane details of the royal game. The tournament wasn't going very well for me and my game vs. Ben Finegold was practically the last chance to improve my tournament situation and possibly win a better prize.  Alas, I screwed up again, and the game was a draw. 

Here is what I wrote in a blog :

Today after the game I had to apologize to my opponent (Ben Finegold) for the last 10 or so moves. Even spectators could see that all my efforts to convert an extra pawn were hopeless. Of course I knew that and still kept playing. I wasn't hoping for miracles or that my esteemed opponent would make some stupid mistake (he is much better than that). I kept playing for my wife who was watching the game online. She doesn't know how to play chess, but can count pawns. So I showed her that I couldn't possibly promote my extra pawn. It was my little way of saying "I am sorry honey for leaving you for 12 long days".

We live in a society where divorces are more the norm rather than an exception. Many of my grandmaster colleagues have been married 2-3 times. Is it that difficult to have a happy marriage? Every couple has its own recipes. My favorite is this: every morning you stop the temptation to check the results of that super-duper tournament and you don't turn on the computer to check how your stock portfolio is doing. Instead you listen to your partner over morning coffee. I ain't no Dr.Phil, but some common sense could save many marriages. In my case it helps a great deal that I am married to the best girl in the world.  Tonight she called me again. "I saw you couldn't queen that little guy, but it was an exciting game anyway. You played very well!"

"I know", I agreed, eagerly. After all, it is very good that she doesn't know how to play chess. 

Reacties


  • 20 maanden geleden

    powernab

    I liked the story too the girl is good thats what makes women so lovely at times.  They can make you think outside the box!!!

  • 20 maanden geleden

    RookedOnChess

    Why do people insist on being so insulting? I see nothing about this as phony. The man called his future wife "beautiful." What's so unbelievable about that? It's the way a man SHOULD feel about his woman :)

  • 20 maanden geleden

    Kenny-ChessKnee

    Very creeped out now.

  • 20 maanden geleden

    Kenny-ChessKnee

    Why did a "beautiful girl" come up and ask you anything at that point? This story has "BS Alert" all over it. I was trying to get info about double pawns and get creepy romantic fiction from a chess blogger. Like the imagination though. (Weird. You chess dorks are weird).

  • 21 maanden geleden

    Conflagration_Planet

    What's so inspiring about it?

  • 21 maanden geleden

    RookedOnChess

    @AlekhinesGhost --- you're too young to be considering yourself a loser at pretty much anything :) Not that age warrants thinking that way either! Rather than envy this lovely story, see it as inspiration :)

  • 21 maanden geleden

    AlekhinesGhost

    I'm sixteen years old; alas, in class I'm a loser. I envy your story very much. Good night, and good luck on your next match.  

  • 22 maanden geleden

    Duxarte

    lovely story! :)

  • 22 maanden geleden

    darienr

    @wernerhp..

    Move 81... Ne8 is a blunder, black would instead just play Nd7 and continue dancing. Nothing to gain nothing to lose.

  • 22 maanden geleden

    redsheep77

    [COMMENT DELETED]
  • 22 maanden geleden

    Conflagration_Planet

    [COMMENT DELETED]
  • 22 maanden geleden

    saarScharf

    beautifull story! i am an average player and your story realy got me! nowdays i am trying to teach my girl this fantastic game, she already knows the basic game so it will be great if we will be able to play in a few years together and the game will be raely interesting for both of us! thanks for your article.. and i hope we will play some time:)

  • 22 maanden geleden

    junji90

    My wife does not play chess but when she speculates my live chess game, I become excited and more likely to win than usual.

  • 22 maanden geleden

    pastoryoshi

    "I absolutely love your story!  But your game got me thinking...was wondering if you would share your thoughts." on move 81. .. black N does not go to e8. instead it goes to d7 and avoids the trade

  • 22 maanden geleden

    shahrokh1975

    this article has the large number of comments and it makes me appreciate your way of training again and againSmile! thank you Gregory

    although my wife doesn't know chess similar to yours, she instinctly hates playing all kinds of games and I have to have coffee listening to her from dawn to dusk Sealed

  • 22 maanden geleden

    wernerhp

    I absolutely love your story!  But your game got me thinking...was wondering if you would share your thoughts.

     

    83.f6
     
     

  • 22 maanden geleden

    RookedOnChess

    Congrats, Alsenor!

  • 22 maanden geleden

    suzettemy

    My daughter and son-in-law are both very competetive.  Early on they decided never to play against each other.   They play only board games where they can play as a team;  Together they are invincible!

    Thank you for such a sweet story.

  • 22 maanden geleden

    razoman

    It will be very depressing if you are beaten by your wife in chess.Embarassed

  • 22 maanden geleden

    Alsenor

    Delightful story, thank you for taking the time to share with us.  All my wife knows is how to count pawns (and maybe pieces as well!), but in two weeks we will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. 

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