I am again deployed to Afghanistan. The hours are long, and there are no days off. An average work day is about 13 hours, but this doesn’t mean we work like we’re in a sweat shop.
There is a chess board in my office, and there is almost always a game at hand. One person makes a move, 30 minutes later, his opponent strolls by the board, ponders, pushes a piece, and goes on with his work. So far I have 12 wins, 2 losses and 2 draws.
The power of chess to enliven me is amazing. Nothing makes my brain work more efficiently, nothing sharpens my senses more. I could play all day, every day. If I have a chess set, I need never be bored.
It’s easy to see why the Soviets dominated chess for so long: In Communist Russia, intellectual achievement were held in high regard, and there were few distractions to individuals who wished to improve their game. State funding for promising players didn’t hurt, either.
When I was younger, and playing sports of all kinds, I worried about old age, that it would deprive me of something that brought me so much joy. I don’t worry about that anymore.