Monday, July 31, 2006

Learning and admiring

Some of the boys. The chap in the straw hat is the strongest player in our Sunday group and one of the best amateur players in the park. He is unflappable -- a natural-born killer on the chess board.

My chess education continued under a blazing sun Sunday in Manhattan's Washington Square. All the tables in the shade were snapped up by the Scrabble players and some lucky fellow chess enthusiasts.
So, we basted in our own sweat, as if the competition wasn't heated enough.
And I learned.
The upshot of today's lesson was that a situation that seems like a threat isn't always a threat -- at least not an immediate one. Circumspection usually bears this out, once my instinct to react in a knee-jerk fashion is overcome.
So, panic often is for naught.
Overreaction often is for naught.
As the Japanese say, tomorrow's wind blows tomorrow.
My first karate teacher is fond of saying that chess and karate are almost identical. By extension, chess and life are almost identical.
I'm beginning to understand just what he means.

Maya, right, and her mother

After four hours of chess, I had dinner and a few beers at my friend Shiki-san's Japanese restaurant in the East Village. And I was in luck: Shiki's former wife's mother was there.
Maya and her mother are from Nepal, near Kathmandu.
Maya and Shiki-san are no longer married but they're on excellent terms. So, Maya is a waitress/hostess at the restaurant on Sundays, and she occasionally brings her wonderful mom, who has been in the States for a few months now and will be returning to Nepal soon.
In person, I've never seen Maya's mother in Western clothes, though I've seen photos of her in slacks and a shirt.
Usually, she wears traditional Nepali clothing.
A devout Buddhist, she often sits at a corner table and fingers her prayer beads as if she were taking on all the burdens of the world.
And maybe she is.
Her face lights up a room. She's the personification of Kannon and the Earth Mother and all that's beautiful.
People like her draw out the best in others in spite of ourselves.

6 comments:

Matt Kohai said...

And here I thought your Sunday was merely well spent, when in fact it was spent *most excellently*!

Phats said...

Hi Michael I am back in the land of the living here checking in to see how you are doing :)

Chess, hmm never gotten into chess I rule at checkers though haha

Michael said...

Hi Phats,
Glad to hear from you. Hope all is OK.

Jules said...

Hi Michael,
I love chess. I haven't played for a long time (few willing opponents), but you've inspired me to get the old set out along with my book of endgame puzzles.

It's nice to hear your friend and his ex get along so well.

Take good care of yourself!
-Jules

Oxeye said...

Hi michael, i don't know if you like computer chess but some of these programs are pretty challenging. here is a list:

Free software every chessplayer should have!

a few of them are pretty good and they are all free. They help in honing your skills before a 12 year old chess genius takes you to school. :)

Michael said...

Hey Jules,

Yes, chess is a beautiful game. Perhaps we could play online or via e-mail or, if you have Skype or free long-distance, we could play by phone.


Hi Oxeye,

Thanks for the tips!
There's a younger chess player in our group who's pretty good. He's about 17, I would say, but has some very strong opening moves. I can use all the help I can get.