No, chess won’t help you pick up girls
It's not easy being an passionated chess player while having small talk with non players. Stand-up comedian Pavel Tomes decided to conduct a self-interview to answer all dumb questions once and for all. Read More
Chess, the saying goes, is the game of kings. From personal experience though, I can promise no one will confuse you with a king if you pull out a chess board on a first date and brag about your checkmate brilliance during your most recent game. Telling someone you play chess elicits one of two reactions. They either turn around and walk away (a move often employed by women), or their eyes light up and the barrage of questions begins. Since taking up chess, I have fielded a lot of questions from people who don’t play. The questions are always the same, so I decided to answer them once and for all.
The questions are always the same, so I decided to answer them once and for all.
Wow, you play chess? I only know the basics. Fancy a game?
Chess, huh? That’s not likely to get your heart pumping, is it?
You’d be surprised. Chess is a sport and a real physical challenge. I have never sweat so much, felt my heart beating faster, waited so long to go to the loo, experienced such team spirit and huge highs and lows, nor felt such a thrill as I have playing chess.
Sport? You can’t be serious!
Chess is a sport with its own Olympics in which an 80-year-old grandpa can face off with a 10-year-old boy in a fair match. A match of life and death that ends with either a child’s tears or a heart attack.
What do you like about it?
That’s a question only someone who has never played chess could ask. But since you did: What I like about it is that you can slowly overpower then completely tear apart a person you couldn’t stand at first sight, using just the power of your brain to give him such a through thrashing that it takes him months to recover.
What is the hardest part of chess?
The opposite of what I just described above. When someone you couldn’t stand at first sight uses just the power of his tiny brain to slowly overpower and then completely tear you apart, giving you such a through thrashing that it takes you months to recover.
Are there any injuries incurred in the sport?
Occasionally tiny, talented upstarts “trip” on their way to the loo and start to cry. The injuries suffered by the more experienced chess players usually happen after a tournament or game down the pub in what is called blitz chess. The most common injuries include a sprained wrist from smacking the chess clock, cuts to the hands from shattered beer glasses, and alcohol poisoning.
What is the point of a chess clock?
It is a special clock designed to measure the length of a game. Players often borrow them, though they rarely return them. Every chess player has around 15 at home, different models with different tiny plaques and coats of arms from various chess clubs and covered in stickers that say, “hands off my clock!!!!!”
How long does the average match last?
A chess match can last a few seconds or a few years. The second is often with case with long-distance or correspondence chess played by mail. Each player has around a week to make a move. During a game, opponents might change jobs twice, die, or even marry, which usually spells the end of a promising chess career.
Too bad we don’t have a chess set here so we could play a game.
Any chess player worth his salt doesn’t need a board or pieces to play. Every average player can play “blind”, which is when you call out your moves to your opponent without looking at the board. The entire game takes place in your head. We have sometimes bragged about this skill to girls on the train who were so impressed they jumped up and left in quite a hurry. Chess masters can play multiple games in their heads.
Which is the most powerful piece on the chess board?
You’ll be surprised to hear that it is neither the king nor the queen but in fact the horse: the knight. Or more accurately the knight in once piece, as bits tend to break off. Chess players often smuggle their chipped and broken knights from their home sets into tournaments, where they exchange them for undamaged knights when no one is looking. Knights are very rarely made of solid wood, which only the most experienced player can break.
The World Chess Federation FIDE has a knight as its logo with every chess player’s motto spelled out underneath: “Gens uns sumus”. This roughly translates as, “Break the horse | Break the knight!”
You know what they say about chess players, right? That they are quiet lunatics?
I have yet to meet a chess player who was a quiet lunatic, though I have met a lot who were quite loud lunatics and argued about the post-game analysis for hours on end or played blitz chess until the wee morning hours during which they destroyed numerous clocks and chairs, while drinking, laughing and singing to excess. Take a hotel room next door to a chess player and see if you get a good night’s sleep next to such a quiet lunatic.
What drives a chess player absolutely mad?
Watching a chess game in a film. Usually the board is set up completely wrong, and the actors ponder their next move while nattering on endlessly about the meaning of life. Then one gets a ridiculous look on his face, makes a completely illogical move, and calls out “check!” The second gives him a look of utter distain, before dramatically making another completely illogical move and calling out “checkmate”” Imagine watching a football match where a player kicks another player instead of the ball, then tears off his jersey and shouts “goooaaal!” and you’ll understand how it feels.
How can you recognise a chess player?
By the plastic bag he won at the last tournament. It contains one pen, a half-eaten apple, a chess clock with a “hands off my clock!” sticker, and a shiny, new knight.