The match has begun. It is an important one, today! I have played a good move, and have gained a considerable advantage over my opponent, I have some time, now, to relax while he comes up with a move, but I am inexplicably scared. Reluctantly, I open the letter that the arbiter had handed over to me, before the game, saying it was pretty urgent!
How does it feel to be crowned the Grand Master? The title that represents perfection, well, almost? Congratulations! I am happy for you. But, let’s get back to business, right now and save the pleasantries for some other time. After all, your clock has started ticking. Your first match as the GM, against yet another GM, one who is way up ahead of you, both in ranking and in stature. I know you are nervous!
I can sense it in the way your heartbeat quickened when the arbiter announced, “Start your game!”; the way your pulse throbbed in your neck and your mind started playing tricks, telling you that you were not prepared well enough; the way you let doubts get the better of you; the way you asked yourself if you would be able to calculate well enough in the critical moments!
Here is a piece of advice: Shut up! Agreed that you have not been up to the mark in the previous few games, but, it does not mean this game will be hard. You have your fears, playing black, I know, worried about the first mover advantage your opponent has!
Typical of a new GM who knows how hard and how long the journey to the summit is!
Close your eyes and breathe! Remember the last time you felt this nervousness? A magical thing had happened. I will remind you if you have forgotten!
No, I had not forgotten. It was 5 years ago. World Juniors. An important tournament, one that could make or break me. One minute before the game, I had realized that I wasn’t prepared enough. I had so many doubts running through my mind. I had needed some consolations. And then, the world had paused. Everything around me had stopped.
The letter stated the facts:
The Black king had grown bigger in size and started speaking! The King had an authoritative voice and it had reminded you of Morgan Freeman who played the role of Lucius Fox in Batman Series.
See not our colour,
But our roles
Play not your opponent,
But his pieces
When in doubt,
Stop and Listen
To what we have to say…
And that might show you the way!
Then the Black Queen had appeared. It had seemed to you as if she practiced minimalism, her words were direct and precise:
this game is of equals
Every move is a chance,
of the highest potential
Calculate in need,
Let your intuition precede
Be not attached to the pieces,
And Sacrifice if you must
Play not for the result,
but for the sake of the move!
The Rook at the corner had grown bigger in size and said :
The value of the pieces keeps changing,
Noticing them is your duty.
Do not be in a hurry to castle,
Sometimes original positions are the best.
My weight doesn’t allow me to speak much,
I believe in the doing and not in the saying.
The Knight and the Bishop had joined the team and recited their verses. The Knight had started first:
Look at how unique each of us is,
one hops, while one scrolls.
My uniqueness is my strength,
And so it is with you!
I complement the King in defence
and the Queen in attack.
For their roles require
that I change and adapt.
Some restrictions are good,
accepting them is freedom.
My twin compensates my diagonal
With King and Queen next to me,
No greater company I can see
Squares are a platform
I am assigned to control.
And then the eight pawns had joined hands and sung:
Just a few steps away,
from the ultimate greatness
We vouch with experience,
that we are souls of the game.
Our peers retain their individuality,
while we are blessed with boon of metamorphosis
reflecting you microscopically
we share the freedom to manifest our divine potential.
And then Caissa, the Chess Goddess, had appeared…
To know the truth about what you fear, go deeper. Go beyond the colour that your eyes see. White and black are just part of the same game. You do not play, but you are being played. Focus on the roles and fulfill your purpose. Result is just one part of everything around you. All that you need to know is already inside you, give it a hearing. Simply make time to listen and sort out the chaos!
There is a reason behind everything. You represent your pieces but you are not your pieces. Do what you can do with what you have, because you have the gift of solving your problems with what you have. Intuition saves time and time saves you. Be aware of the changes and do not get hooked to mere appearances. Two pieces may fail to match in size of rook, yet the same rook may fail you in closed positions without open files. Sometimes, it is best to let the things be the way they are. Their stillness might offer you some clue.
If you ever find yourself caught up in the trap of monotony, use your uniqueness to make it interesting. Evaluate your attitude and capitalize on your strengths. Knowing our true nature can be of greatest help in close battles, especially when you need to know what you shouldn’t be doing.
The real freedom in life is about being yourself and not letting the situations influence your ability to think or do what you want to.
How lucky you are to live so many times! Every game is a new life; every move is a new day.
And Caissa along with her entourage had disappeared all at once.
The letter continued:
So, remember these lessons when you play your next move and give it your best shot!
N, from your past
Suddenly, there was commotion and the sound of bell ringing, but the match couldn’t be over yet! It was my alarm clock going off in full gusto! What a fantastic dream with so many insights. And a letter to my future self from my past self? What did that mean? That I had forgotten some learnings on my way? Or had grown too complacent? Perhaps, yes!
As I get up and splash water on my face, I promise to the self I see in the mirror. I will work harder and focus better. And talk to my chess pieces, to keep learning, to keep growing, always. And as far as being a GM is concerned, well, I hope I do get to meet that version of my future self soon!