The Nerdiness Goes One Step Farther

More than a week ago, when I was at the Pontiac with Chris and Will… Will and I discovered we were both interested in chess. More than that, we discovered that we both knew about the Wicker Park Chess Club, which meets on Wednesdays at Myopic Books. The two of us made plans to attend tonight together, and play a little chess.

We show up around 7PM, and did a quick run-through of the store. No chessboards, no nothing. We decide to wait around, and sit upstairs and chat a bit. Before long, a guy named Zach shows up, introduces himself, and we’ve got ourselves a game.

Zach and Will, reviewing some moves from their prior game.

Zach is a strong player, and did a number on both me and Will at the start of the evening. He’d play about 2 games per person, always switching colors after each game. It was cool to play chess with someone who really knew what they were doing, and even more fun listening to him talk through various strategies and his rationale for moves/defenses.

I’m not a big chess player, in the real sense. I’ve played my fair share and I’m pretty ok at it. But I haven’t studied openings or defenses or any of that hard-core stuff. Listening to Zach talk, there’s a lot for me to learn.

A bit later on in the night, a guy named Stephen shows up and we locate a second chess board. We all pair off, typically playing two full games before switching again.

All in all, I did pretty well tonight. In the end, I think I won more than I lost. Will and I both seemed to improve dramatically after our first few games, and were doing pretty well towards the end. I think I was 50/50 with Stephen and ended up winning both of my two games with Zach before we all called it a night.

I also met a guy named Scott as we were leaving. Didn’t get a chance to play him, but found out he had just started taking “lessons.” This intrigued me, and I got to hear a little bit about what actual “chess lessons” entail. Fascinating stuff – and just a bunch of really, really nice people. Can’t wait to give this another go next week.

Of course, I can’t walk out of a bookstore empty-handed. We were up on the top floor, near the mythology section. Two books caught my eye – one on Ukranian folk tales and another on American Indian myths/legends. I vividly recall reading a ton of American Indian myths in elementary school, particularly those involving Coyote.

I’m a sucker for fairytales.

Also, I happened across a book by an old professor of mine, Scott Russell Sanders. Mike had recently spent a week at jury duty, and yesterday I brought him a copy of Sanders’ essay Doing Time in the Thirteenth Chair. Justin and I were talking about Sanders earlier in the day today, and it seemed a fortuitous thing to come across this collection while browsing around tonight.

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