Let’s Play

I started playing chess before I was 9. My dad taught me the basics and I always found it fascinating.

I’m not as good as I should be though. I always play as white and against the computer. I lose so much sometimes I get discouraged and stop playing for long periods. I think one period lasted for over nine years. Of course some people say I play well but when they talk like that I just think “Please, that’s just because you’re not such a good player.”

For the next few days I’m going to be taking you through the basics of chess. This is weird because I won’t be teaching you how to play. Ok maybe a bit of the rules but that’s it. Mainly I’ll be talking about each piece and where they stand on the board.

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As you can see in the board above every game starts with each side having the same 16 pieces each. The light square of the board is always set up to be on your right (don’t ever forget, light is right) and this means if you play as white your king is on the right in the centre. The light king is the right king even though he sits on a black square, never forget. He is usually the tallest piece and is often shown with a cross on his head.

Beside the king in the centre of the board is the queen. She insists on matching her colours so she always starts the game wearing shoes matching her dress. That’s right, the white queen sits on a white square and the black queen sits on a black square right at the beginning of any game. The queen is usually the second tallest figure on the chess board and she, not the king, is represented with a crown on her head.

The bishops are the trusted advisers of the king and queen, one for each, and they sit right next to their monarchs. The knights come next as you move out away from the centre. Usually the knight is represented by a horse head figure (what’s a knight without his horse, ey?) The blokes that sit in the far corners of the club are the rooks. They are also called the castles. You see that the knights are able to gallop into the castle when they feel like. All right, not exactly but you get the picture. The rooks/castles are represented by pieces with castle tower heads so it’s easy to recognize them.

The soldiers or laborers are represented by the small pawns in front of the ranking officers. Each side starts with 8 pawns each and you can recognize them easily by the fact that they are all over the place and are shorter than everybody else. (Short people have a way of making noise all over the place, don’t you agree? Ugh!) The bishops look like big pawns. Bishops and pawns are the only pieces without distinguishing figure heads so most times we arrange them after arranging all the others. Or we just arrange randomly if we’re so good because we’ve been playing so long.

So do you think you can arrange a chess board? Sketch a grid 8 squares long and 8 squares wide and write the names of the pieces where they are supposed to start. Try not to look at the picture up there until you’re done.

Did you get it right? 🙂 I hope so.

See y’all tomorrow.

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It’s better to be wise than strong;
intelligence outranks muscle any day.
(Prov. 24 vs. 5, The Message)

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Day 6: Emmanuel

This post could go so many ways and probably will anyway. I’ve always been a drifter, emotionally, mentally. ‘Extremely fickle’ my sensei says, but it’s much deeper than that. Probably why at the beginning of the year I put an end to my annual New Years Resolutions and ripped up my bucket list. I was being rebellious at the time attempting to break the norm but I was unwittingly setting the pace for the whole year, and I don’t regret it, not one bit. The harried person that I am, I’m terrible with dates, even the roughest of time frames. But then, there were no special dates, no defining moments, no life-changing epiphanies, no, 2012 was a year of learning, a series of slow, often painful lessons, more or less growing into myself. I didn’t learn anything about myself this year, which is not a bad thing, I’ve always been painfully self-aware, but I learned a lot. Now I’m not saying these things are the truth, I’m just saying they’re what I learned (in whatever order):

Music Heals: You probably know this, but don’t fully understand it. Music saved my life in 2012 (don’t roll your eyes, I’m not going to include a download link at the end). I’ve always been a big music buff, but this year I learnt to properly listen to music, to soak myself in it, wallow in it, let it wash over me, course through me, cleanse me. Whether it was Florence Welch straining her Lungs, or Lykke Li and her kooky Wounded Rhymes, Lana lamenting/celebrating her mortality, Birdy weeping over piano keys, Angus and Julia Stone and their warm cookie-dough sounds, Frankie and his smooth soprano, Sigur Ros and their ethereal, haunting melodies or Regina Spektor’s eccentricity or even AZ in all her glorious ratchetness. I lived from one bridge, one hook to another, and I loved every minute of it.

Loneliness is a disease: it will claw at you and scrape your insides, hollow you out, but that’s not nearly enough, no. You’ll collapse in on yourself and it will still work on the individual pieces, if you let it. Lord I crawled back from the edge so many times, in the arms of friends, or floating on the bridge of a song. I’m not on solid ground yet, but I’m getting there.

I learned that you won’t always find the forgiveness you seek.
I learned that your mistakes cannot be undone.
I learned that life won’t always give you what you think you deserve.
I learned that your second chances will be spat upon and discarded.
I learned that pulling an all-nighter and chugging coffee won’t guarantee you that A.
I learned that you can’t stop people from walking out of your life.
I learned that ‘they’ won’t always like you.
I learned that you cannot fake affection (at least not for long).
I learned that that awkwardness never really fades with age.
I learned that burying your head in the sand just dirties up your hair.
To hold your tongue and take a deep breath and a step back
But I also learned that your scars give you character
To carry along that stone you stumbled over
To find warmth within in the dead of winter
That a baby’s giggle is the greatest anti-depressant
The beauty in companionable silence
The magic in watching the sun rise

I made friends, wonderful wonderful people I’d give an arm for.
I struggled with my spirituality. Mother says He’ll flip my world on its head when He’s ready (hurry Big Guy, I’m so tired.)

Most importantly? I learned to walk, to keep my back straight and my head high, to perfect that easy grace, drop that adolescent stoop, arms lax, lazy eyes. The haughtiness and polite aloofness of a prince. Nowhere near the swanky proud lion I’ll become, but far from the scared cowering cub I was a year ago.

My mane is taking its time to grow out and my thin frame is under constant strain, no way equipped for the proud bearing I’ve assumed, but like I said, I’m growing into it.

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Thank you very much Emmanuel. Continue growing.

Olumide will take us through his year on here tomorrow. See you 🙂