Thursday, November 4, 2010

Snowbirds and Cold Turkeys

For the third year in a row, my chess activity has gone into a seasonal lull. Except for occasionally skimming Dana Mackenzie's blog, I almost quit chess cold turkey. No blitz servers, no tactical servers, no books, no games, no engines. Hardly even any visits to the club since about late March. I think I played two skittles games in August. Period. There's a pattern developing: I played no tournament games in the months of June through October in both 2009 and 2008.

I had been doing a lot more computer programming primarily because of a career change. Information technology is mostly the transformation of one type of data into another. When I was young I used to try to dam up the gutter water with rocks or twigs or sand, perhaps to control the flow of water. Information is like a creek that keeps flowing and changing course. It's essence remains information, yet its pattern morphs in and out of recognition. Logic governs the 64-bit world as it does the 64-square world. IT problems seem less bounded and more amenable to creativity and sheer improvisational hacking, but there is still the search for the ideal solution, the best move. Programming ideals include speed, effectiveness, efficiency, scalability, object orientation, reusability, readability, abstraction, portability, maintainability, reliability, accuracy and freedom from bugs. The passion for chess that I used to feel seems to have translated directly into a passion for information technology.

Back in sixth grade, I tied for second in the individual state chess championship. But in seventh grade, I discovered the Atari 800 computer and BASIC and when the Computer Chess beat me handily on level 3, I pretty much gave up chess for eight years until junior year in college when I found out that one could study books about chess. My adult tournament career began in 1991 and went strong until career and family brought tournament chess to a halt between 1998 and 2002. There were short stints in 1999 and 2001 when I was crazy deep in programming, but chess came back strong from 2003 to 2006. The last four years have been a struggle against plateaus and valleys of strength and enthusiasm.

I was a professional programmer for 4.5 months. I would say that being laid off was a novel experience to add to my sheltered life. My logical brain hibernated for the past six weeks, but it's starting to throw off pangs again. I'm going to try to stay away from theory and books and the search for perfection and try to concentrate on remembering the fun of chess.

1 comment:

Tony Chinnici said...

Beautiful to have you back, my friend.