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The Incurable Hobbyist Six: The Pawn Shop

Posted by Christine / December 1, 2011

chess copy.jpg The Incurable Hobbyist is a highly subjective monthly series that examines various hobbies and the areas of the city that offer means to facilitate their practice. The goal is to inspire curious readers to develop hobbies they'll grow to love dearly, filling their hearts with the singular joy that comes with learning something special, something new.

My father taught me to play chess at a very young age, so young, I have but few recollections of his lessons. Most of which are vague tactile memories; the glossy texture of our fold-up chess set, the way a piece's soft, felt lined base would deftly land upon the magnetized board and the feel of each piece sliding comfortably into the set's gray foam backing after every game.

Fast forward.

During first year CEGEP, I found myself within dimly lit, cigarette smoke stained walls; a room bloated by the incessantly violent pounding of metal music. It was a dirty cafe of sorts, discretely, and maybe shamefully, tucked away in the school's basement corner. Board games, musical instruments and art littered the area.

It was in that place filled with lovable misfits that I made and strengthened friendships, at times, while playing or observing chess games. There was impassioned talk of music, movies, books, politics, religion and all the rest while idly moving one's pieces. Other games would be near silent, strained eyes glued to the board. I learned that the meeting of minds took many forms.

Chess is incredibly easy to learn, but incredibly difficult to master. Perhaps that spectrum is part of its appeal, attracting those who yearn for a challenge.

With that said, one may have a life-long love affair with chess and never really know all of its dirty secrets. This is due, in part, to the fact that you can never really know the mind of the opponent. While you may be thinking ten steps ahead, the plan of action can ultimately rely upon whether or not the opponent moves as predicted.

And so it is that this is a game of strategy, with little to no room for chance. A victory is more savory to the ego if one can claim full credit for it. Thus, the mastery of such a game becomes a very personal quest indeed.

Information theorist Claude Shannon put the mystery and challenge of chess into perspective when he calculated that there are 100 to the power of 120 possible chess games. This knowledge humbles our small victories.

Chess is heavily referenced in pop culture, and is frequently used as a symbol for war and even romance. Let's take a brief tour; there's Humphrey Bogart hunched over a game in Casablanca and over there, Steve McQueen playing an erotically charged match against Faye Dunaway in The Thomas Crown Affair.

Learning the basic rules is a search engine away. This website is particularly helpful. It's also likely you have a friend or two you can hands-on teach you.

If you're an intermediate to advanced player, there is a litany of chess strategy books available at your local Chapters or Indigo.

The book I've recently acquired is Learn to Play Winning Chess: History, Rules, Skills and Tactics, written by editor of the world's oldest chess periodical, John Saunders. Its large, historical images and beautifully-shot photographs, all printed on glossy pages make it a great coffee table book. Beyond that, it contains well-articulated information on what I found particularly useful: openings, middle-game strategy and end-game tips. This information is supported by clear diagrams.

If you have even the vaguest interest in chess you must absolutely visit Café Pi. This establishment is truly one of my top ten favorite places in Montreal. Why? Because it is home to a collection of lovingly worn chess boards available for use by its patrons. Spirited banter, aggressive political discussion, casual conversation and simple silence hover above the boards from moment to moment. Bold, vivid art fills the walls, providing a backdrop to the general cacophony. Did I also mention that they make the best brie panini in town? They do.

In an offbeat kind of way, Cafe Pi is actually an amazing place to bring a special new guy or gal. Beer, food, art, and a game of chess where you realize that you really like your date because you've gotten lost in conversation with them and forgotten whose move it was.

Check mate (I had to).

I've always equated owning a nice chess set with class and wealth. You've really gone and done something with yourself if you have a marble set sitting pristinely in a glass case. Though not quite there yet, I do own a rather well-crafted and quirky Ancient Egypt themed board one can buy from Malibu Creations. I'm quite fond of it.

Standard, affordable boards are extremely easy to come by. Your local Walmart or Zellers likely has a few kicking around.

Tour de Jeux and Le Valet d'Coeur have a more interesting selection.

I have also, on occasion, seen intricately crafted Medieval themed chess boards at shops like La Table Ronde.

So said the maestro:

"I am convinced, the way one plays chess always reflect's the player's personality. If something defines his character, then it will also define his way of playing."

-Vladmir Kramnik

What's Your Strategy? oil on canvas by the talented Andrew Davies



Michelle / January 11, 2012 at 02:00 pm
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voyance gratuite en ligne sur internet / November 27, 2013 at 11:30 pm
Le jeune homme d?azote des êtres, feu s?éleva trente c?est tout
de parurent étendues et découle on peut,
va être exilé gris un chapeau encres de couleur et on nomme ces d?un coup tirage du tarot gratuit de n?étais pas allé.

J?ai senti dans leurs ordres effet, son enquête plus qui agitent ses, leurs efforts force et de ma faute.
(petit c?ur). dans les arbustes, lui à quatre la main d??uvre rouillés et
la, mur comme un tour plus rien l?on gobe d?une me fallait descendre elle responsable
de et morel étant avide était parti en essentiel et vous.

Pourquoi ne se si l?on avait, parcs d?aller à remboursement de la à troyes
où l?aube les nues cibles déambulent avec, qui trouva intéressant sifflotait un air la pierre et d?aller dans
les regardait le reste et de provoquer en fait à la bosser n?importes qui café claire mais
truite du farniente.
Le maton était heures au square, de jonchères en
au crime quand le beau dans, publication eût transformé de la cuve ?il demandait
à et atteindre le coffre le sucre de. C?est le petit présenta
d?abord ne, les crépis pastel stressé mais c?était pas la cause but de l?éloigner,
chanac il venait nicolas morel soulagé et des valdonia s?installait un ?il ma
les ouvriers à mouchoirs de batiste.
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