Blanks in My Brain!

“If all misfortunes were laid in one common heap whence everyone must take an equal portion, most people would be contented to take their own and depart.” — Socrates

[Originally written as a Facebook Note in November of 2016, recently reappearing as a Facebook Memory and now published here.]

I’ve got to conclude on this wonderful Thanksgiving holiday I’m holding too many blanks in my brain!

And from this remark, I can now sense my online political debate opponents marveling in joy over such an admission— lol!

Anyway, my cats recently knocked over a box of chess pieces, scattering pieces everywhere. While picking them up, I thought: “Why am I not playing chess anymore?”

When I lived in Boston and Cambridge I played often and always had a chess parlor of two or three boards set up ready for game. But for the past 16 years I’ve been living, with cats, in a small town where I knew only two people who played well. Both disappeared. One due to illness, the other became a hermit.

Except for sometimes teaching a child to play, I hadn’t played a serious game for about10 years!

Over past decades, I played a reasonably well with five-minute chess games my specialty. I played in Boston’s chess clubs on Newbury Street and Boylston Street, with some of the best in Harvard Square, NYC’s Washington Square Park (where I once beat “The Wizard,” a small claim to fame only few would know about) and I even played at The Pavilion along Chicago’s downtown river. As a teenager, I hitchhiked everywhere with a chess set, playing anybody as often as possible.

An unorthodox player and too much a wanderer of hobby, I never disciplined enough to join a chess club or play tournament games. So I never attained an actual chess rating. My guess, at the top of my game, I’ve been a Class-A player. But, given my absence, I’m more likely now a B player. Prestigious titles of Expert, Master or Grandmaster were always too dreamy, forever an elusive time-consuming goal.

When the internet finally became popular I dabbled a bit with the Pogo app chess system and attained an internet rating as a “One-Minute Expert.” I never had the time or patience to play the long games. Except for this brief three- or four-month period, I never played online chess. My time was always devoted to girlfriends, playing guitar, songwriting, politics, jobs, playing darts in pubs, rollerblading and stretching singles into doubles while playing ball in competitive leagues.

But my cats knocking over my chess pieces renewed me. Yesterday, I turned on my computer and googled “online chess.” For the next 24 hours, over and over, I played against a rated 2500 computerized grandmaster!

No matter how great my effort, I just couldn’t beat the beast!

Talk about a lesson in humility!

I became so humbled it got to a point where I outright declared myself downright dumb! It was like, “Duh! I knew that. Why didn’t I see that? I should have moved there! What’s the matter with me? Damn!” Often I’d play what appeared as a reasonably good game, but still lose at the end. Although those games were satisfying, it kept my new-found obsession alive.

Overall, due to the tip-over action of my cats, it looks like I’ll make a bid to beat back the blanks in my brain and start playing again on the computer. Hopefully, I’ll cease pretending I’m David against Goliath, stop trying to beat the machine grandmaster and settle into some computerized games more at my level.

I’ve got to admit: It was good to play again. It’s just a shame, due to my cats, I never can leave a board of chess pieces set up, always ready for play. This would certainly inspire me and others to play some real games. But, here, my cats win!

On a side note, as my cats love to paw and push pieces along the floor into every nook and cranny, I’ve also incredulously seen them delicately walk atop a mid-game of well-developed positions and never come close to touching a piece, almost like birds flying in rapid navigation through a complexity of leafy tree branches.

What do they know that I do not know?

I’m to wonder: Were I a clever cat or if I could fly like a bird, would or could I beat the grandmaster?

So because my cats enjoy moving the chess pieces more than I do, I can’t leave a chess board set-up. I don’t mind losing a good game, but I hate losing chess pieces — lol! My cats are like grandmasters. They always win!

Who knows! Maybe some day again I’ll take on that ghostly depersonalized beast of a grandmaster who lives in my computer. At least now I’m old enough to accept the fact that I’ve blanks in my brain.

Today’s Update

Sadly, my reemergence back into playing chess never materialized. I never fully got back into the swing of the game.

Why not?

I blame the forever GOPwingers, the frustrating Hillary Clinton Democrats, the rigged primaries, the absurdities of Russiagate, the horrors of Donald Trump and America’s pitiful foreign and domestic policy. Aside from my music, all I do these days is hide from the Corona Virus, play with my cats and keep trying to save the world by writing about politics.

I did, however, come up with a great entrepreneurial idea. Create and feature nursing homes exclusively for chess players. Who knows, maybe some day I’ll get to play again. If lucky, I’ll find a grandmaster as frail as myself. Duh!

Founder of Boston’s Climate Change Band; former NH State Representative; Created Internet’s 1st Anti-War Debate; Supporter of Bernie Sanders & Standing Rock!