Obsession Cycles

I’ve rediscovered chess. Again.

Right now all I want to do is play chess, read about chess, do chess puzzles, study my old chess games (yes, I record them…), install chess software, etc. I’ve entered another USCF correspondence chess tournament. I’m searching for local chess clubs on the off chance I’ll get a free night to play over-the-board (I only play correspondence and/or internet chess, since having a first-year medical resident for a wife and a 6-year-old daughter don’t leave much time for over-the-board play).

But give it another few months, and I’ll burn the chess obsession right out of myself. Just like I’ve done the last 10-15 years.

Chess isn’t the only “obsession cycle” I go through. I have my Magic: The Gathering cycles, fantasy sports cycles (which I tend to burn through faster than other obsessions), and “I’m-gonna-freelance-in-my-spare-time” cycles. My reading tastes seem to burn just as brightly — I just came out of an epic fantasy cycle, and I’m now in a space opera cycle. In a few months, I’ll go into a mystery cycle and read any mystery that falls in my lap (or onto my Kindle).

Fortunately my fiction writing “obsession” is the only thing that’s stayed constant my whole life. I’m at least disciplined enough to finish my writing quota and then reward myself with my obsession-of-the-moment.

Do you have any “obsession cycles”? What are they and how long do they last? And please keep the comments clean… 😉

Life is chess

Ken glanced at me from across the board. He said nothing, nor was there a hint of gloating on his face. But he knew I was beaten. And he knew I knew.

Right from the start, he had me on the run. His knights and pawns had set up an impenetrable wall from which his bishops were free to snipe at my defenses. He soon had complete control over the center of the battlefield. Any piece that ventured out there would be slaughtered in a ghastly crossfire from his bishops and rooks.

My soldiers did not have the strength to mount a strike into his heartland. After some blundering on my part, my king stood quivering in the right corner protected by a beleaguered knight, a trapped bishop, and three pawns waiting to die. My queen was off harrying his back ranks, but making no real threat. My lone, surviving rook stood next to the king in a feeble attempt to protect him from the inevitable. All my other men were gone.

Ken was only down a couple of pawns and a single knight.

Surrender crossed my mind again. Never! my stubborn will screamed. I had lost the previous game, and I wasn’t going to lose this one. At least not with a surrender.

I suddenly spied a weakness in his defenses. I ordered my queen back to the perch on which she held a few moves ago, directly attacking the pawn in front of his king. It was my only chance. Maybe he won’t see it…

He didn’t. He sent his rook to greedily take of one of the pawns surrounding my king. A loss of a man for me…and a loss of the war for him. My queen attacked the pawn in front of his king. Protected by the rook defending my king on the other side of the battlefield, my queen had him in checkmate.

He stared at the board a moment. His mouth fell open, then he shook his head.

I learned two things from that game. First, no matter how good things look for you, never start rehearsing your victory dance until the game is won. Second, no matter how bad things look for you, never give up until you’ve been checkmated.

I love how principles learned in chess transfer to real life.