The first time I watched James play in Washington Square Park, his opponent was someone named “Falafel”. James lost. 3 out of 5 games. He had to pay 5 dollars, or 10, I forget. That day I knew I would never play James at chess. There was just no way I had any chance in hell of even getting to move three before dying a bloody death. When we went to Argentina, we wandered around the Buenos Aires chess club. Naturally.
They would have never let me in by myself. What I did not know is that every chess club in the world has a password. Shh.
The password is your chess rank. Mine is negative, it does not exist, James is somewhere above 2200 which means he is a “Master”.
He has the password that suddenly makes the man at the reception smile, open all doors, and show you the enormous three-floor house. I counted at least 150 tables.
The under-17 Argentinean Chess Champion was hanging out there too.
It was not long until James and the 16-year-old spoke broken Spanglish sentences and then switched to the international language of the game. And they were playing.
My sisters’ jaw dropped. I saw it in slow motion, I was standing next to her. Oh yeah! I said, I hear you!
Here is a short video of that game, watch at your own jaw risk. James won that game.
When speed steps into the chess table, as in when players go for the one, two, or five-minute game, it stops being about philosophy, there is no more thinking, it becomes a “practice”. The mind cannot elaborate anymore, else you lose.
Posture, breath, silence, intuition and concentration become your lifeline to a possible checkmate.
Just like in yoga: posture, breath, silence, intuition concentration, these are the bloodlines of the practice for a possible ego check.
BUT there is also one key difference between chess and yoga.
- In chess time speeds up
- In yoga it slows down
But in order to transcend or win, you have to be totally in the moment. Time must cease to exist.