Posted in Chess, Writing

Out of a million quotes

” I suppose I’m one of those who sees chess as a form of therapy. Sometimes I wonder what people like you, people who don’t play chess, do to escape from depression and madness.”

from: The Flanders Panel, by Arturo Perez-Reverte.

I could think of a hundred or even a thousand meaningful quotes on which to base a post. Yesterday they flowed through my mind, quotes from texts of all kinds, quotes from poems, new and old, but today as I sat at my computer to begin work, I knew this was an important quote for me.

In the morning I think over things to be done, things unlikely to get done, and plans I need to make. It could lead to confusion at times. Then I open my laptop, connect to the net, and look at my online chess games–there are ten or fifteen on two different sites, and I just need to make one move in each. I don’t ponder much over the moves, it takes me about ten minutes or less, but at the end of it, my mind is clear and calm. And sharper and more focused. And then I can begin writing.

I had posted that quote on a chess website and many chess players responded and said that chess in fact drove them crazy! I think it is when they are focused on winning, and not on playing, not on seeing the beauty of combinations on the 64 squares on thatImage1356 board. I am not sure if chess is therapy for me, but it is certainly a great way to start the day.

Does anyone else have a similar strategy to get started?

Posted in Chess, Writing

Chess, writing, and the unconditioned mind

How does a writer begin each day? Some start writing as soon as they wake. Some write at night. Some start with emails, twitter, facebook– I start my writing day with chess.

As soon as I get to my table, I look at my online chess games and make one move in each of them. During the day, if I am stuck in my writing, I make a few more moves. Most of these are somewhat routine, though they help to focus the mind. Once in a way, I suddenly see a brilliant combination. And that is when the mind makes a leap from its normal level, and becomes different–fresh and sharp.

I have heard the same thing happens to mountaineers, and perhaps to people playing  other  sports. I think that is the ‘unconditioned mind’, the ‘freedom from the known’, that J Krishnamurti talks about. Applying this to writing, it implies something new. Not the loss of all influences, but based on those, a new insight, a new thought, a new approach.

Perhaps scientists, mathematicians, poets and musicians reach this state more often than prose writers. I can imagine Coleridge’s mind when he wrote Xanadu, or Mozart’s when he composed The Magic Flute, or so many other poets and composers.