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  1. 07 Jun '11 21:06 / 1 edit

    here is a story that tells a bit about the ways of chess, among other things. What ties you to chess? Would you like to share some episode about your connection to chess?

    Looking forward to your replies,

    My father taught me how to play chess when I was quite small, maybe ten or so. There was a board and pieces, very simple, but made out of wood with some kind of cloth glued to the pieces to make them slide smoothly across the wood. We never played a lot, but often enough to get me hooked, somehow. It also was the board on which my father played chess with my grandfather, who I never got to now.

    Some five or six years later our school sent us to work - to gather experience in the 'real world', to find out, what we would like to do in our lifes. I ended up in a cellar, feeding water fleas to algae that glowed miracolously in the dark. As if this wasn't amazing enough, a totally cool supervisor was seriously discussing with me - a boy of 15 or 16. I remember asking him, what I would have to do to study our often discussed question: what is life? He jokingly recommended 'philosophy' and 'biochemistry'. I jokingly said 'ok.'

    It must have been this time when I seized the chess board from my father (give it plus or minus a year), who was not playing chess much anymore.

    15 years later I was invited to a birthday party of a friends friend. She was rolling a cigarrette with paper of a brand that likes to put quotes of philosophers and alike on the package. This particulare one read 'The end of a work should always remind on its beginning'. Some french guy was supposed to have said it, it could have easily been hidden inside a fortune cookie. However, I had just handed in my PhD thesis in biochemistry and was waiting for my final exam. It made me think, naturally, about all kinds of things, above all about 'what is life'.

    Also I was asked to answer that very question for a newsletter at exactly the same time and found out, that I simply couldn't answer it. 15 years of planning and studying and still nothing precise. In the end, I avoided a direct answer and wrote about the beauty and strangeness of life. The exam was still looming above my head, no time to loose for silly questions...

    So the exam approached and as it turned out, I had the rare opportunity to concentrate the essence of my thesis into a 3D model - all colored - to be taken into the hands to look and feel. However, fragile it was and I desperately needed to find a safe means of transportation not to disappoint my examiners.

    My eyes wandered across my office and came to rest on 'my' chess board. It somehow made it across the years to my working place, playing corresponding chess once in a while, looking at positions to get a '3D feeling' for them.

    Who would have thought, that the model of my thesis was just small enough to fit into the wooden box of the chess set? Safely the model travelled to the exam, stuffed with some tissues to cushion it. It was all awe and beauty, unbroken, I passed the exam (the examiners asked before 'so what is in the box?'😉 and I was thinking of the 'beginning of the work'.

    My father wasn't able to travel to the town of my exam, he became quite sick some years ago. Last week I instead went home to celebrate a bit with my parents. We went to the sea, had a great dinner. I guess he was too exhausted when he told me back at home, that he has a son who just passed the exam of his PhD thesis and was my age. And even had the same name.

    I know, he would have loved to come. But he was there, somehow. When all the pressure of 15 years unconsciously accumulated a day before the exam, when I smashed my mobile phone at the nearest wall, I felt so well, when I saw that wooden box. He was there and he taught me more about 'chess' or 'what is life' then he could have imagined.