I've not much missed it, to be honest. As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, I've had time for other, more rewarding things, not least trying to catch up on some of the reading I seem to have laid aside twenty or so years ago and never properly picked up again. I am sure more than a quarter of the books I own are chess books. I am equally sure they shouldn't be.
But it doesn't succeed in getting me away from chess. After reading The Mill On The Floss, and coming across the passage involving chess which I linked to above, I read JP Donleavy's The Ginger Man - it must have knocked people backwards in its time, and it's still funny if at least a little dubious today - and came across another couple of references to chess, including the recollection of one character that while under arrest at a police station he beat various people "in chess".
Immediately after that I read the book that will be the subject of Saturday's A Literary Reference and which, you can therefore assume, also contained at least one reference to chess. Coincidence, presumably. Doesn't help you feel, though, that you have escaped the grasp of chess, that it is no longer dominating your life.
For the record, this is the last game I played, in the final round of the Ciudad de Huesca tournament played last summer. (Don't be fooled by the board number, I was upfloated.) You can see why I've packed in playing seriously. Each side takes turns to throw the game to the other. I've played far too many games identical in trajectory to this.
Horrid. Yet what is this? It is a list of entrants to the South Wales International Open, taking place early next month, in Penarth, South Glamorgan, and that definitely seems to be my name on it.
It's just a holiday. Is my claim. Not serious chess. No really. No preparation will be involved. Well hardly any. I hope.
Just my little bit of chess for the year, just as I make sure I go to at least one football match every season. A nice game of chess. First and quite likely only games of the year. First games, on reflection, I've played in Wales since the last round of the tournament in Monmouth in July 1993.
And how did that one go?
Here we go again.