Monday, July 13, 2009

Sore loser

As far as losers go, I am at the top of the heap. All the comfort mantras that are intended to soothe the pain of defeat like "At least I tried", "There is always a next time", "Will this matter 5 years from now?", "Win as if you are used to it, lose as if you tried it for a change" etc - they form the core of my philosophy of existence. However there is one activity in which my defeat is almost always guaranteed and it never fails to rile me up every single time, that being defeat at chess.

On the face of it, it's just another board game with 16 pieces pitted against each other on a 64 square battlefield and calls for extraordinary presence of mind and common sense (qualities that the powers-that-be have been stingy about while doling out my share). Defeat ordinarily means that the vanquished leaves the table and lets someone better take over. I wonder then why for me every loss feels like someone has sharply kicked me you-know-where. Maybe it's because there is nothing I can attribute my loss to except for a basic lack of intelligence on my part. There is no physical prowess involved here neither is any secret move which cannot be predicted. Every knight being slaughtered, every rook being mowed down, the queen's death - all assume levels of personal tragedies for me. And victory, ah victory, I can't even begin to describe the extreme happiness.

Things have gotten so bad that the only person I would play against was my 7 year old nephew (who was unfortunate enough to come to me one day chess set in hand and request me "Kutush Mama, teach me how to play!") in Calcutta and even overcoming his challenge gave me a thrill. He was getting sharper by the day though, and I am glad that I skipped across the Indian and Atlantic Oceans before the inevitable day when he would say "Checkmate". I am sure in the past one year, he has sharpened his skills and is waiting for his "Shakuni mama" to return so that he can get his vengeance.

My laptop has chess in it but I have played it only once on the lowest level of AI and defeated the computer. Since then, I haven't touched it again for fear of spoiling my perfect win-loss record against my faithful laptop. If someone were graphing my happiness over the past 25 years, a peak point would be in my 3rd year of engineering during a winter evening. I was up against Raveesh and was getting thrashed every single time for maybe 5 games in a row. On the last game before dinner, I was once again left with nothing but my king and Raveesh's troops were moving in for the kill. Then I discovered that I was in a 'stalemate' position where any movement of my lone king would have moved him into a check position thereby earning me a draw. Oh, the joy of not losing that game being in that helpless a position and the smoke coming out of Raveesh's ears as I laughed myself to death - what an incomparable feeling of success. Need I mention that I never challenged Raveesh to a game of chess again!

2 comments:

Kunnu said...

Roy...you have got to play with me. I mean, no matter how worse you play, you can never avoid winning against me. We will be good rivals...hehe
By the way, we made a good team in Carrom, didnt we?

Roy said...

Yes, at least I am glad that there are no fouls in chess! :D