Why I No Longer Play Chess

I once visited the cultural center in the Soto district of Móstoles. My father had signed my sister and me up for a local chess competition. Admittedly, my recollections are hazy—I was only about 12 then.


Chess, as many attest, is a captivating test of the mind. I would immerse myself in trying to decipher my adversary's thoughts, all while veiling my own. Each move was a step into multiple potential futures.

Two distinct approaches to the game emerged in my mind. I was enamored with the idea that a blend of logic and intuition alone could carve a path to victory. My strategy was straightforward: apply the rules diligently and outwit my opponent's foresight.

However, the tournament brought a revelation—the second approach. The venue was the center's library, the specific room of which now eludes my memory. My father and sister watched in rapt silence. Though the specifics about the game clock or any time constraints escape me, I recall the game being brief.

I started with a sense of confidence, deploying an opening I was familiar with and vying for control of the board's center. My opponent, noticeably older, perhaps in his mid-20s, remained wordless throughout our match. Yet, with unnerving precision, he identified a chink in my defense, swiftly moving in for a checkmate within a few turns.

Upon his victory, his silence broke. With uncanny accuracy, he reconstructed our game from memory, elucidating each move, underscoring my errors. It was as if he possessed an omniscient view of every conceivable move. That moment felt like a slap—it wasn't just a loss, it was a lesson in humility. The sting of that defeat haunted me for years, pushing me away from the chessboard. Playing in such a calculating manner didn't resonate with me.

In retrospect, my father's intentions were pure. He believed witnessing such mastery would kindle my passion and drive me to improve. Instead, I was overwhelmed by frustration and resentment.

Years later, a realization dawned upon me. This approach—meticulous preparation and internalization—is prevalent not just in games, but in professions too. Initially, one navigates with logic and intuition. But mastery? That demands a level of memorization. That chess defeat remains an indelible mark on my psyche, a hurdle I've yet to overcome.