, ,

"The first recorded instance of the Queen's Pawn opening
was in 1757, when the Compte de Renais used it in a match
against King Louis XV after a night of drunken debauchery
with his favorite mistress, Claudia. In 1896 the famous
grandmaster Oliver Hyde-Dingleberry used P to Q4 as his
opening in the initial game against Werner Kasle von Strasburg
while suffering from the lingering effects of the Malaria he
picked up in Africa, which caused his vision to become blurred
to the extent that he could not clearly see the pieces on the
board. Strangely, exactly the same thing occurred in 1905 when
Robert Addams used the identical opening after his own bout
of Malaria. Following that incident, chess masters tended to
stay away from Africa."

— Edmund Pierce, The Complete Book of Bad Chess Openings.

Ranking very high on my List Of Questions I Hate To Be Asked is — "Do you
play chess?"

After a few seconds spent experiencing an inner cringing sensation
accompanied by an external closing of the eyelids and the gritting of
teeth I always answer "Yes, I know how to play chess. But I suck at

Chess is a game that requires a good amount of study before a player
can play it well. Even the wiz-bang 8 year old prodigies still have to
go through the great games of the masters and pay their dues. Way back
in the 70s and in college I put some time into learning the game. But
my final decision after many months was that it was just not worth the
study. There were other things that were far less nerve-wracking and
way more fun. Like hanging out with Mia Schreiber. Oh yeah, now there
was an enjoyable use of time.

"Chess is life" you sometimes hear, or perhaps "Life is like chess."
Uh, no, it isn't. Chess is a board game played with pieces called
Knights and Rooks and played according to a fixed system of rules.
Contrary to life, which is a fundamental mystery and which has no

You also hear that chess trains the mind and helps one to think better.
Really? Yeah, perhaps that explains why chess masters tend to be
crazy as loons.

In fact I think that in terms of improving one's mind that a pretty
good case could be made for the reverse, that chess is a game which
addicts the mind and takes away from the pursuit of other, more
valuable activities. And if it is logic that you want to learn then
it is better reading through a few books on symbolic logic than to
spend way more time learning to think clearly through chess.

If you want to know about life, read through Shakespeare.

If you want to know about strategy, read history.

And if you want to have fun playing a game, play Go Fish.

"You got any eights?"

One of reasons I didn't spend much
time with chess in college.