A blogging tradition I’ve followed elsewhere for years now is The Friday Five. I thought it would be fun to bring it over to my professional space, too—to take a peak at the woman behind the curtain, so to speak. This week’s theme is chess, in honor of Deep Blue’s historic (or is that historical?) victory over Garry Kasparov on this date in 1996.
1. When and how did you learn to play chess?
I think at some point my dad tried to teach me and my brother. He had grown up playing a lot of chess with his brother and I think he wanted us to learn, too, but it never really took for either of us. I think I still have an Usborne Guide to Chess he gave me for Christmas one year somewhere. Since then, I’ve tried a couple times to “really learn how to play this time.” It seems to be a whim that hits me every couple of years, but never really sticks.
When it comes to black-and-white strategy board games, I had a slightly better time with Othello (or Reversi, if you prefer), but only slightly. My mom, maybe among the last people you would ever suspect of being strategic and crafty, habitually destroyed me at it. I’m sure if she had been born in another time and place, she would have been a champion Go player.
2. How is your chess game?
As you can probably imagine, not very good.
3. When did you last find yourself in a stalemate?
As a rule, I try to avoid conflict and confrontation with people. The closest thing to a stalemate would be, I guess, my critique group stalling out in scheduling an upcoming make-up meeting. Yes, not quite a stalemate, but like I said—the closest I get.
4. A gambit is a chess opening in which a player sacrifices a piece in hopes of gaining an advantageous position. What was one of your recent, real-world gambits?
I think one of the problems I have with chess is that I have a tendency to hoard pieces. Even though the mechanics of the game dictate that both players have to lose pieces in order for the board to open up and for play to really begin, I can never feel totally comfortable losing a piece. I think I maintain that attitude in real life as well.
5. Which piece on the chessboard is most like you, and why?
I suppose the bishop: I’m narrow in my interests, but within them I’m quite knowledgeable. Or maybe the knight: I eventually get to where I’m going, but my path is a little more roundabout than other people’s.