Tuesday, January 1, 2008


Two games back, my lucky sweater stopped working. It’s a grey fleece pullover that I bought in Carmel a few years back. After castling short 0-0 in the first two rounds of the Western States Open, I brought out the Carmel fleece and finished 1-½-1-½. Adding the two games won after WSO, it worked for six games in a row. But the Golden Fleece stopped working in the last tournament where I again castled short 0-0.

For a while during my pre-WSO slump, I had been blaming my Chronos clock for my bad luck. But the clock was a neutral factor in WSO, being present for both wins and losses.

Before that, in my 40-game no-loss streak between June 2004 and February 2005, I had a lucky Baja Fresh cup that not only helped hydrate me, but also gave me a supernatural ability to get out of bad situations on the chess board. Of course it makes sense that the cup is a lucky chess cup because it has this 45-degree chessboard motif on the back. Unfortunately one day, probably while I was annotating the 40th game of the no-loss streak, it rolled under my recliner and when I pushed the leg rest down, the recliner put a hole into my lucky cup. My very next game was a crushing loss against a Class B player. I tried to buy another Baja Fresh cup to replace it, but there was only one Holy Grail and now it’s lost forever.

I wish I could say that our Royal Game is not fraught with a certain randomness that borders on luck, but I’ve seen my share of wacky results.

Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” ends with the following verse.
When you believe in things that you don’t understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition ain’t the way, no, no, no.

Why should I believe in the supremacy of inanimate objects over my fate? It doesn’t really seem to match up with my scientific approach. Cursed objects come back into good graces when I win with them and blessed objects lose their charm when I lose with them. Logic dictates that I should concentrate on my mental processes so that I play strong moves and avoid errors. In the final analysis, I don’t really believe in the supernatural powers of my sweater/clock/cup/(insert chess-related object here). But I’m keeping in reserve a couple of lucky pens.


chessboozer said...

Your sweater may still be lucky, it could be that you are playing people wearing even luckier sweaters.

On another note, I looked at sacramento Chess Club's recent results section and saw they had 23people in their club championships, roughly the same as Reno, which when you consider the difference in the sizes of the cities shows chess is relatively strong in Reno.

Happy New Year

Anonymous said...

If I start winning 100% of my games and referring to my sweater as "My Precious" you'll know that I've found the One Sweater to rule them all.

Robert Pearson said...

If you start referring to your sweater as "My Precious" I'm going to have to organize an intervention at the club...