A man made of experiences and still growing with and through experiences.
My Game, My Story
After watching the series “Queen’s Gambit”, I find it interesting to share some of my story or rather a story on how I learned and enhanced my skills in the game called “Chess”. At the age of five, the first boardgame introduced to me was “Dama” which is something like the Checkers which is a game of move and capture. At that time, we don’t use the Checkers’ board and pieces but another board with standing pieces instead of the flat ones. Out of curiosity, I notice several taller pieces that were not on the board and not used in the entire game. That’s when I started to ask about it and learned the name Chess. Like the main character in the series, I started to watch games of the adults and honestly, I don’t get it, especially the Knight. Another confusing thing is that they “curse” and stated that they lose even though they have more pieces than the said winning side, unlike in checkers. With that in mind, I look for books and study it. I master every piece’s move and familiarize myself with the game. I play with the adults and let them teach me how it works. I always loose at that time. It took me almost a year to grasp the basics and other stuff in the game. I play and play with them not knowing that there is so much of it than what I already knew.
Elementary days. I’ve got a lot of fun and enjoyed other sports, setting chess in my mind aside. I focused much on Counter Strike, Battle Realms, Super Mario and other video and computer games, which cost me a lot because I rent a unit in a shop, 10-15 pesos per half hour. Then this “sportsfest” came in. It’s an event in our school where we compete at sports. At that time, I didn’t enter or take a sport to participate with because I focus on being a writer for the school paper with the event as the theme. During the entire event, I cover the game chess, which was the time I got myself in the game again. I enjoyed watching the games of the students older than me and their coaches at the back murmuring some letter-number combinations. It has taken over my interest and the report and articles I was supposed to write were gone, although I’ve made some rough-drafts but I think it would not be enough because the game is so interesting that a report stating who wins and who loses is not a feature worthy article. For our editor and adviser on the school paper that time, I’m sorry that I failed to submit the article for publishing because it’s not good. For the article to be good, I need to know the meaning of those letter-number combinations. I also noticed that a player has a definite pattern of play, which was good with the first couple of games until some move make him broke the pattern, which cost him the game. I need to know more about the game, that’s what I think and planning to do. Couple of weeks past when a classmate of mine just brought a chessboard on our room during lunch break and told me to help in her practice for the upcoming Interschool Sports Meet. So, the board is set and she let me take the white side. We’ve done some moves and I noticed her with wrinkling foreheads. She said “you’ve got no blind spot in there.”. Upon checking my side, I saw that every piece has its own supporting piece, in which she called “no blind spot”. Well, for a total beginner, it made me a bit happy and named the move as the “Ultimate Defense General” after a trading card of the same name. After a bunch of moves more and she exclaimed checkmate, criticizing and laughing at the Ultimate Defense. It’s no big deal with me losing the game because I’ve learned something new, “defense is the best offense”, or so it may seem. By the way, it is also her who taught me the letter-number combination and I really thank her for that.
“Chess, like love, like music, has the power to make men happy.”
— Siegbert Tarrasch
And then came the summer vacation. No video games. No assignments. Just pure house chores and chess. My father brought home a chessboard with some writings like “tournament” and others so, I think he is a good player. And I’m right. He is a good player that he and his co-player sometimes places bet for a game. He taught me some tips and tricks then we play. Still, I’m not good enough and it tires and bores me every time I lose. So, I’ve spent the vacation trying to figure out what’s more into the game. Reading the books and chess guide to check some tricks but it’s no good. Although I already got the letter-number combination, which was stated in the guide, it’s just hard to follow the pattern if something odd from your opponent comes at the board. I’ve tried doing exactly what the guide says like “Pawn to E4”, “Bishop to C4” and others, but what if the spot is occupied? What should I do? Shall I move to the next step the guide says? Or should I improvise another move? Those were the answers that arose but my final verdict is, not to follow the guide but learn and make my own move. I started learning and making moves I strategically formulate my own and use it in my games. And for the first time, I got my first win, using the more improved Ultimate Defense. But again, there is something more I need to know about the game.
Do your own thinking independently. Be the chess player, not the chess piece.
— Ralph Charell
High school days came. New school, new guys. Fortunately, some of my cousins were like me who were interested in the game. So, our uncle, who plays chess, took his time teaching and honing our skills, then we play and play and sometimes place our bets (which is the chores in the house, of whose gonna do it). Fast forwarding to the Sports fest. I enter the chess game and won the 2nd place. After that, chessboard became a trend in the campus that during vacant classes, students will gather for a “change-the-loser” game. So, it’s not only me who wants to hone chess skills. I participated in those games and much to my surprise, there were these things that I notice. After every round, after every change of opponent, they seem to know how to counter the move I’ve been doing. And with them pushing me back with their moves, I have to think of another way out and do something different from the one I’ve been doing. I thank them for the games we played because I’ve learned the flaws and cons of my moves.
The last two years of my high school life and chess were not great but I can say the best for me. I’ve got a rival in the game. I’ve got some of my friends that wants me to teach them. As a matter of fact, I don’t want to teach them but I want to learn with them. With our games during those times, I’ve formulated another move and got me a place in the Zonal Sports Meet.
First moves should be to prepare the field. Set it up in a way that for the next part you won’t have to worry about the pieces. My coach once taught me to utilize the Queen’s mobility and break into the last line as possible. She taught me these moves which is more efficient when playing White:
- e4 - e5
- Qh5 - g6
- Qxe5 - Be7 or Qe7 or Ne7
- Qxh8 which captures the rook.
This move is a diversion if the opponent opens an e5 and tries to prevent a Scholar’s Mate or the Four-Moves-Mate in our place. The second one is to initiate attack. Capture as many pieces as you can but, sacrificing your pieces is a must if necessary. With your first moves/preparation as your defense, you can break your opponents defense with the second phase. Then the last phase is chase. Chase the king down or make it resign. For me it’s not a hundred percent win but a prepared, organized and planned gameplay. As long as you have a plan at hand, you won’t have to worry what you should do next. It may not always come out the way you wanted it to be but, at least you’ve tried and not given up.
“I have come to the personal conclusion that while all artists are not chess players, all chess players are artists.”
— Marcel Duchamp
The Game and Life
I’m not aiming for a grandmaster title and even not close to any title because I have a lot to learn but, with the way I learned and played the game, I’ve got lessons in life that no one can take away from me. The memories and camaraderie, a healthy competition and game worth remembering as time goes by.
“I am convinced, the way one plays chess always reflects the player’s personality. If something defines his character, then it will also define his way of playing.”
— Vladimir Kramnik
Klarenz V (author) from Philippines on November 27, 2020:
Thank you Liz!
Liz Westwood from UK on November 27, 2020:
Chess is a popular game that has a long history. It is interesting to read about your experience.