Where were you on September 11? I know exactly where I was sitting and what I was doing when I first heard about terrorists and planes going into the twin towers, the Pentagon and that field in PA. I remember precisely how that total stranger told me about 9/11 on 9/11. Thing is, that stranger could have been living down the street or pulling an all-nighter in China. You see, he told me while we were playing online chess.
Insert confession here: I have played chess almost daily for the past 11 years. In the beginning, I would close my eyes and still see the chessboard. (Is that a bad thing?)
I learned to play chess when I was probably about 30 and the Young Life Area Director in Santa Fe. I found one of the high school students I worked with, Matt Dark, who knew how to play and was willing to teach me. After Young Life Club the group would go out for ice cream and three or four chess sets would hit the tables and then out came the trash talk and the slamming of clocks. It was nerdy but it was awesome.
I should have known that my chess life had become unmanageable when:
1. I started buying books with titles like Chessercsizes and, wait for it, More Chessercizes.
2. I began studying (but not understanding) famous chess games.
3. I found myself playing other seminarians under the table during our summer sessions.
4. I began upping the dosage with “team” chess where four people play two chess games and replay the pieces their partner has captured.
5. My wife had to start imposing rules regarding my chess playing. Rules like, “No trash talking the 3 year old when teaching her chess.” (In my defense she was ‘being a baby.’) Then the most oppressive rule crept into our marriage, “No playing online chess while the kids are awake.” I know my kids and my kids know me because of the chess rules my wife set up.
The sweetest part of my chess addiction is that I have played continuous turn-based games for the better part of 11 years with that same kid who taught me way back in Santa Fe. Matt is a married, math smart coffee nerd, who plays the blues and lives in Portland.
(For the record, I immediately resigned the 9/11 game.)