Sunday, December 24, 2006

Reading chess books is like lifting weights....

When I was a kid, I used to read comic books that featured the famous Charles Atlas ad titled "The Insult that Made a Man Out of Mac!" where a skinny guy gets sand kicked in his face at the beach. Embarrassed in front of his girlfriend, he goes home and orders Atlas exercise equipment and starts working out. Next summer, he's at the beach again and kicks that guy's butt....

Here's a heartwarming Christmas tale where a beach bum does the same with chess:

"On Christmas Day a local guy named Al Dukes, who lived up on top of the hill above Pupakea, invited myself and another surfer named Johnny Fain to have dinner with him and his wife at their house.

Johnny was a hot surfer and a good tennis player from Malibu at the time and had a great sense of humor. He and I used to hang out together surfing and playing tennis a little bit.

It was a beautiful meal, and we had eggnog, and everything was fantastic. Al's house was set way back up in the pine trees and was a mountain cabin-style A-frame.

After dinner we were sitting around talking, and Johnny spotted a chess set sitting on a shelf. He asked Al if he played chess, and Al said he loved chess, and they proceeded to get involved in what seemed like an eternity of what actually was only one game.

I knew nothing about chess at that time. But it looked interesting.

After they finished, Johnny briefly showed me how to play, and we had a few games. He gave me both his castles and knights and still kicked my butt. But it hooked me on the game. I liked it.

After that we went back down to the beach and found perfect 6- to 8-foot waves with nobody out at a spot called Kammieland. A great way to finish off a nice Christmas Day.

The next day I went to town and bought two books on playing chess and a plastic chess set. I read the books and started practicing on Rodney Sumpter, who I was sharing a house with that year.

Rodney knew how to play a little bit and at first beat me every time. But I kept reading the books and practicing moves on my own, and within days I had him dead each time.

Two weeks later I was finished with the books and had thumped Rodney over and over. Now I was ready to play Johnny Fain...."

Read the rest online at the

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