Captcha: archbishop flabrus

1969-01-chess

Why I quit playing chess
------------------------

This requires some back story.

I was a pretty stereotypical nerd in high school. Chess is about all I did,
besides homework and whatnot. All of the friends I had were on the chess team
with me.

I don't want to understate that last statement. I was really close with a lot
of those guys. We even had matching baseball jerseys and a little routine we
would do before chess meets. I won't bore you with the details but I've never
been one to do what I was told.

My high school was one of THE BEST in Milwaukee public schools, and I'm not
exaggerating. The only good teams back then were private Jesuit schools,
suburbs, and tiny (850 student) Juneau High. Expectations were high,
appropriately.

My freshman year, I was basically a "prodigy", as much as I hate that term. I
was beating people with more experience and earning praise all over the place.
It was about this time I started getting close with the people that were on
the junior-varsity team with me. We finished top 5 in the city, and went to
state, as we always did.

Sophomore year was more of the same. Higher expectations, even more success,
better friendships. Future was so bright I needed shades.

Junior year was the apex. By this time I'd made varsity, and I was really
coming into my own. We finished second in the city and we went to the state
tourament with aspirations of getting a trophy for a top 5 finish. We came a
few points short in the end, but we had a great time and everyone was amped up
for the following season.

Senior year, I singularly ran into a brick wall. I lost every single game
during the regular season except one I played against a kid I went to
elementary school with, where I had the psychological advantage. Thinking about
it now, I wish I could post some of the games I lost, but I remember now that
I threw the scorebook into a bonfire when I was in college. Needless to say
there were some embarassing losses in there. Every game ended the same:
stupid mistakes, losing to people I should have beaten, hearing it from the
coach, swearing to do better next week, repeat. At the city tourament, I shit
you not, nobody else on the team lost a single game, but I lost every single
round. When the coach was preparing for the state tourament, I told him I
refused to go, and though he had more faith in me than I did, nobody could
have forced me to go. They went to the national level that year.

I didn't play a game of chess for nearly 15 years after that. When I did, it was
against you and miggy and I had the same early successes before reality hit.

I don't know why I felt the need to tell this story tonight. Maybe I just
needed to make the story relatable. Maybe I wanted you to know where I am
coming from when I say the things that I do.

So, regardless. Maybe now it lends some meaning to why I take
seemingly-meaningless losses as though it were the end of the world. Because
in the day, it basically was. I can swallow letting myself down, but I've
failed a much higher level than that.

This probably makes no fucking sense at all, and if it doesn't you can feel
free to tell me to go fucking suck a dick, and you'd be fully justified.

Fuck it.

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