Last week I was able to tick an item off my bucket list: I played chess in the park with strangers! (Yes, my bucket list items are that level lol)
Achievement unlocked: play chess in the park with strangers (and lose badly)— Roy Tang (@roytang) January 15, 2019
When watching TV/movies, I was always fascinated by those scenes where people are in the park playing chess and I wanted to play chess in the park with strangers too. In hindsight, it makes more sense that people would actually be playing with people they knew, but the idea of playing chess with strangers seemed fun to me for some reason.
So the other day I was passing by the QC circle (as is my wont), and I saw a bunch of white-haired old men playing chess under some tent-like structure. There were four chess sets set up and two of the boards were occupied with ongoing games. I strolled over and started watching the games. One of the guys sitting at the other two tables asked me if I wanted to play, just some quick games. There were chess clocks too! So we could play timed games, 10 minutes each. They told me the sets belonged to one of the gentlemen currently playing, and he just asked for some small amount in coins for playing.
After some mumbling that I’m very out of practice I pretended to reluctantly agree. We set up the clock and went at it.
It was true that I was out of practice. Most of my chess-playing days were back when I was in HS/college, though I did occasionally play when my old company had chess as a sportsfest event. (That didn’t last too long because one of our employees was an actual competitive chess player, and another one was a varsity player in college, so I never got beyond the top 4…)
First game I was black, and my openings were good enough, and we had a decent back and forth in the midgame, but I was behind in pawns and near the end game he forced a queen exchange and my king couldn’t handle the pawns in time. I almost ran out of time on the chess clock too!
I agreed to a second game, this time I was white and performed much worse. It was easier for me playing black and just reacting to what the opponent was doing, but as white I didn’t have any kind of decent plan and all my attacks ended horribly until I fell to a knight fork attack that took out a rook, then got trapped in a situation where I had to give up the queen to avoid a checkmate. I had already run out the clock by that point, so I just quit.
They wanted to play some more, but it was late and dusk had fallen so I begged off and thanked them for the games. I gave the guy 15 pesos for the use of the sets, seemed fine. They invited me to play again if I see them there, apparently they do this often.
I guess I would have felt much better if I had manage to win at least one game, but I walked away satisfied anyway. I’m not sure why I was so excited at the idea - since I do Magic tournaments, playing against strangers isn’t new to me. I guess there’s something about participating in an activity I don’t do too often, and having strangers judge my plays, that made it a bit exciting. And in any case, it did make me think about playing chess online - is Yahoo chess still a thing? Lol. Well, I already have a lot of daily gaming habits, let’s see if I can fit that in sometime.