Chess

Rainy Sunday in Connecticut.  I am doing laundry, lifting weights, cleaning the house, playing chess, listening to a chess instructional video, doing homework from my anti-racism course, and cooking dinner all at the same time.  Too busy to write a blog post.

I admit to being nervous about the election on Tuesday, and have been having difficulty concentrating, bouncing around from preoccupation to the next.

I got my haircut this week, the first one in over a year.  I was on my way to the barbershop back in March when  they locked the doors for the shutdown.  I was a minute late.  They wouldn’t open the door.  So I grew my Corona do and secret stache, too (hidden underneath my mask).  While I enjoyed feeling like I was in my teens again back in the 70’s, the hair got a little unmanageable.  I’d throw my medic pack over my shoulder and the strap would catch on my hair.  Annoying. Plus with winter coming, we had our first snow when I worked on Friday, if you have long hair and wear a hat, it results for me in hat head, so I went with the near bald look.  No longer a hippie, I am hoping, the new look will kick me into gear, improve my workouts, make me eat better, and in general, improve my outlook on life.  If I hadn’t been so anxious and trying to find ways to keep myself occupied, I might have let it grow a little longer, but going to the barber was another thing to do so I did it.

My team the Patriots lost today with their quarterback fumbling as the team drove to a possible game-winning touchdown or certainly and easy game tying field goal.  I turned the TV off right away and put in the instructional chess video.  I watched a great show on Netflix last week, a seven episode series called Queen’s Gambit about a young orphan who learns to play chess and goes on to battle the Russians in a big chess showdown.  I won’t give it away, but the ending was magnificent, well worth the time invested.  The movie was about many things: coming of age, battling substance use, finding your way in the world, but in the ending moments, it was about the world’s love for chess.  I stood up and cheered at the end.  It restored faith for me in mankind in these most uncertain of times.

When Bobby Fischer beat Boris Spassky back in 1972, I was 14 years old and was waving the American flag with patriotic pride along with the rest of the country when he won.  I like many took up chess for a while because of Fischer, but I was never very good at it.  I am playing again now against a computer because my daughter won’t play with me, and while I handily wiped out the beginner and some of the intermediate computer players, I have been getting crushed by an intermediate avatar named Nelson, who looks like a grinning Lebron James.  He is aggressive with his queen, and while I have beaten him a time or too, they have been with “hints” from the computer.  For the most part, I loose concentration and make a blunder, which the computer immediately flags for me in red, and I fight back my anger and frustration.  I know I will never be a great chess player, but I think it might be something I can work on as I get older.  I have heard chess helps build brain cells and fights off dementia.    Chess for the mind and weights for the body.  My gym sweatpants are dry now.  They got wet because I swam this morning.  With the COVID rules the locker rooms are closed so I have to put my suit on at home and wear it home wet under my sweats.  I have been swimming four and five days a week, but my efforts have been lackluster.  I am allotted 50 minutes to swim in my lane, but find myself leaving after 30 without even having pushed myself hard in my time in the water.  Too much on my mind.

I’m going to do some dumbbell circuits now and some step-ups on a new box I bought and made.  The rectangular box has heights depending on which way you set it — at 12 inches, 14 inches and 16 inches.  I use the 16 inches for the step-ups, but can only box jump 12 inches and then I only attempt it after I have put the box against the wall to brace myself in case I don’t get up high enough or trip.  If I will survive without breaking my hip, then I will stand on a bosu ball for balance work.  At 62 and my six eight balance not being Wallenda like, and, particularly heading into winter with icy roads and sideways, I am increasingly worried about slip and falls.  Me slipping and falling.

And then of course there is COVID out there, and I find myself glancing often at my chest in anticipation of seeing his red laser light on my heart.  Stressful times.

So you see I am just trying to keep busy, trying to keep myself occupied, trying not to think about what could happen to America on Tuesday.  I just sure hope all Americans vote and that everyone’s vote is counted, and that the election is fair, without voter intimidation or court ordered repression of votes. I hope no one stirs up any trouble or violence.

Good wishes to all (except for Nelson).  But if Nelson checkmates me again, I’ll shake his hand virtually.  He will be the winner in a fair fight.  I will not throw a tantrum.  I will not claim his victory is false. I will not spread lies and conspiracy theories.  I will not dishonor chess. 

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