My father taught me chess when I was very young. After about thirty years of inactivity, I’ve recently started playing again, and ohmygod am I shit.

I am getting my lights punched out by four-year olds from the Ukraine. I try to play ten, twelve ten-minute ‘blitz’ games a day because I know that’s the only way to get better, but ohmygod am I a shit chess player!

Humbling is one word. Humiliating is another. We’ve all watched “The Queen’s Gambit” on Netflix, the bildungsroman tale of an unlikely chess prodigy. Except, that’s actually what happens in chess. There are 37 Grand Master’s under the age of 14 years. Some days it feels like they are all lining up to pummel me.

But that, too, is my fragile ego talking. In reality, I’m beneath their contempt. I am firmly in absolute novice territory. It will take me a year to crack 1000 points and be considered a mere ‘beginner’. So in reality, I’m getting beaten but the absolute worst chess players in the world. Yay.

Sadly, chess is now sexy. People see an opportunity to cash-in, not just on their ability. Take young Alexandra Botez, for example. A good chess player, she’s ranked 27093rd in the world. But she is an official ‘chess celebrity’ because she also happens to look like this.

From a tactical perspective, like female poker players wearing low-cut tops, good looks and celebrity status are weapons of mass distraction. I’m put off by my own respiration; God knows what some tidy decolletage two feet away from me would do to my concentration!

Speaking of which, my wife keeps promising to play. I wait with bated breath! My son generously induges me in a game, now and then, but he is a ‘beginner’ and firmly out of my league. When the little elf is ready, I’ll introduce him to the game and see how old he is before it becomes an act of charity for him too.

But I am stubborn, if nothing else. I’m not mathematical, logical, consistent, methodical, or intuitive. But I am stubborn. I will get to ‘beginner’ status!

Unfortunately, my gameplay is like the plot of a cheap horror novel, there’s a scare on every page, but it all kind of peters-out disappointingly towards the end.

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