When I’m Sixty-Four

When I started blogging hereabouts, I thought I would be writing about game theory, but most of my game theory observations are either briefly stated or inaccessible to most readers. The more generally interesting and perhaps useful observations I can offer are about the struggle with one’s self to achieve excellence in chess, excellence long deferred, and to do so in one’s sixties (I’ll be 64 next June).

I returned to formal chess competition after a twenty-year hiatus in 2011, having to relearn the game for the computer age as I have noted previously. My technical skills have improved immensely but still the struggle is with myself, being able to engage at will from the first move.

In the following game I am mentally AWOL until dead lost. A miracle occurs, and my opponent misses the winning idea. Then I really get to work and turn in a stellar defense, still lost, but not fading into the weakening attitudes (“Oh, my opponent deserves to win, I didn’t really feel like playing, I’ll go home and have some soup, etc.”) that have characterized my play in the past.

My hope against hope was rewarded. As the clocks wound down, my opponent forgot for a minute to punch his clock. “Did I forget to hit my clock?” he asked. “Yes, you forgot to hit your clock, but it doesn’t matter,” I replied. “This knight ending is a win.” And so it was.

Jacques Delaguerre