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.

Anonymous said...

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