My 32 Before 32 challenge has been an absolute disaster. I choose a long list of things I want to do between my birthdays every year, and I know that I’m never going to achieve them all, but I like to give them all a good go. I don’t know what happened this year, but things just haven’t happened, and I’ve crossed off very few.
But recently, when I was making plans with my friend Jen for her to pick me up to go out, she said “Do you want to come round a bit earlier and I’ll teach you chess?” I was really grateful, because I’ve had ‘Learn to play chess’ on my list for a number of years, and I’ve never bothered to do anything about it, despite the fact that so many of my friends know how to play. I know that I could have taught myself, but I really felt as though I needed someone to sit me down and explain it to me.
As you can see from this photo, Jen’s set is really nice. It’s big and chunky, made of wood, and I really like it. One of the pawns has lost his head, which confused me momentarily, but I really enjoyed playing with it. She went through each piece (calling the knight ‘horsey’ at one point), and told me how each one moved, and I made notes, like the nerd that I am. We didn’t get to finish a game, because we ran out of time, but I managed to retain all of the information, and we got in a couple of Harry Potter and The West Wing references, so I was a happy girl.
Having learnt the rules, I knew that the best thing to do was to play a lot, so that I can start playing properly, and actually trying to second guess the other player. I didn’t want to play against real life people (I didn’t want to be humiliated!), so I downloaded a game that I could play against a computer opponent, and one that I could set to a really easy level! It took a couple of tries, but in the end, I managed to win a game! As I said, it was against the computer on the easiest level, but I’m calling it a win and departing the field.
All of this means that I can actually cross off another 32 Before 32 item, because I can finally play chess! In the last two weeks, I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to play that much, but I’m going to keep practicing, so when it comes to playing someone who actually knows what they are doing, I won’t embarrass myself!
8. Learn to play chess