Those of you who know me may not be surprised that I picked chess as my “C” entry. Chess. Even the word sounds good to me. I love everything about the game, its history, and its players. Good ones, bad ones, cheating ones – doesn’t matter to me, as long as it’s chess. I’m not here to talk specifically about chess, bur rather, the preconceived notions about it and regular back-handed comments I get vs. “other” popular pastimes.
I’m a regular “party-animal” kind of guy, and I very regularly take my highly built Jeep Cherokee onto extremely difficult trails. I also play the drums in a very heavy rock band, and have been in my fair share of bar fights. So, when folks learn that one of my greatest passions is chess, the comments start flying. Nerd, geek, brainiac, sissy – oh, I’ve heard them all. However, let’s compare chess to say, football, boxing, basketball or baseball, a few of America’s biggest fan-based sports.
Nobody who has played chess for twenty years receives an unnaturally swelled up head or brain. They do not have an ass that is the size of a car door from sitting on it too often, and they don’t forget how to talk because of all the quiet they have to endure. Athletes however, are often irreparably injured (usually the legs go first), regularly receive concussions and the second they get a little old they are cut from the sport. Professional chess players can remain competitive for as long as they want, or are able to.
I have never seen a chess player at an event sweat profusely, emit growls or howls, or slap another man on his ass after a good move had been made. In fact, I cannot imagine a scenario in which any of that would happen at a chess tournament. You ever see a pro-ball player on the field in Levis and a t-shirt? Maybe a fine suit? Nope. Playing chess, though, gives you those freedoms. A chess uniform would be ridiculous, in fact. Go, team!
Chess players are normally not brand or team specific. The professional chess player is far and away a one-man team, and each one has a different style from the next. Some are attacking, some are defensive, some are positional and boring while others display firecracker tactics that really please a crowd. Sure, some folks may love or hate Fischer, or be die-hard fans of Alekhine or Kasparov or another strong and famous player, but I doubt their garages are lined with pictures of those players competing and I’m sure they would admit, if prompted, that other good chess players exist, as well. Try to get a Lakers fan to admit that another team is good, in any way. Good luck with that.
Have you ever seen the *prices* of some of the sports swag? It’s insane. My nephew, 16, received a couple of $90.00+ armless sports jerseys for Christmas. Half a shirt for almost 100 bucks? You are out of your mind. Even the sports equipment like bats or balls or gloves or racquets and what have you are expensive. However, a chess set can be picked up at almost any retail store for a few dollars, without sacrificing the quality of the game at all. I like that.