Caïssa’s Wisdom: #3 – Chess Addiction

Rules and Etiquette for Chess Amateurs

My friends! Today a final cautionary note from our celestial benefactor on how to successful maintain a ‘special relationship’ outside of chess. After this she has advised me that she will move on to other no less important topics.

The long suffering Vera Nabokov even studied endgame table-bases with her chess junky husband! The woman’s patience knew no bounds it seems

#3: Beware of your one-track mind

Question: What do chess players do when they aren’t playing chess?
Answer: Think about chess

As any chess addict knows, it can be difficult to leave your last game behind at the board. However, we urge you once again to remember the Golden Rule (see #1) – no-one wants to know. For chess addicts who are married or in a long-term relationship with a “Non-Playing Partner” (NPP) I fear we must advocate that you condition yourself to an even greater extent. It may surprise some to hear that there are times when even thinking about chess is not appropriate. We’ve already referenced Marcel Duchamp’s marital crimes in these edicts (see #2). Today we draw your attention to the inconsiderate behaviour of the famous novelist and chess addict, Vladimir Nabakov.

More than a few heads turned when, in the supermarket parking lot, Vèra set her bagged groceries down in the snow while she shuffled for her keys, then loaded the trunk. In the car her husband sat immobile, oblivious. A similar routine was observed during a move, when Nabakov made his way into the new home carrying a chess set and a small lamp. Vèra followed with two bulky suitcases.
– Stacy Schiff, “Vèra: Portrait of a marriage”

Ah, the joys of the pocket chess set! Of course in our era advances in technology have made it even harder for chess addicts to effectively wrest their attentions from chess play and study and behave like polite and loving human beings. Imagine what Nabakov would have been like if he’d owned an iPhone carrying Chessbase and a account! Our game has found new ways to encroach into every waking moment of our lives and we must constantly take precautions against becoming a chess-zombie.

I’ll leave the final word on this subject to World Champion Viswanathan Anand who, as we saw in “#2: Spouse Rules” has managed to balance his chess playing with a happy marriage. That doesn’t mean however that his wife Aruna’s patience isn’t tried from time to time by Vishy’s one track mind.

I remember once I was in Switzerland and my wife told me, ‘I put some of your stuff in the safe – the code is very easy to remember, it’s 2706, so you can take whatever you need.’ And I told her, ‘Well, 2706 is not really a good Elo rating. Normally it’s rounded off to the nearest 5 or 10′. So I told her I couldn’t see how I could remember that. She looked a bit shocked and then she explained to me that the 27th June is our anniversary.


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