Thursday, August 30, 2007

The pleasure is all yours

Many years ago, when I was working in a social security office in Oxford, I used to play for Oxford City Chess Club, who met on a Monday night. This fact was known to my colleagues and one Tuesday morning, when I came into work, one of them asked me, "did you go to the chess club last night?"

"Yes", I replied.

"Did you enjoy yourself?" she asked.

The question threw me. I'd never been asked that before, not about chess. "I never enjoy myself when playing chess", I said.

She gave me a look. "So why do you do it then?"

I laughed, but it's not the worst question ever asked and I've been trying to find an answer ever since. Why do I do it? Satisfaction? Masochism? Obsession? Safety from the Big Bad World and the perils of Actual Real People? Inability to actually enjoy myself? (Did you ever meet a chessplayer who you could genuinely call an extrovert?)

I dunno. Anyway, it's still a shock to be confronted with the idea that chess can actually be enjoyable and so it was with some surprise, when I was idly flicking through the site statistics the other day and seeing how people had come across this site, that I found one visitor who had located us, from Google, using the simple search term:
Pleasure? You're joking, aren't you?


Tom Chivers said...

"Chess is mental torture", as Garry put it.

I do feel pleasure winning a good game, but it's highly retrospective and about once every five years.

Chris Morgan said...

Seems the stronger a player you are the more tortuous the effort. Perhaps I need to work harder at the board and not enjoy the game as much.

Ed-T said...

Winning is thrilling and losing is demoralising. The more tortuous the game the greater the thrill and the worse the loss.