Chess Master Meets Real Life -- Losing Shape

There comes a time in the life of each talented young chess player that it really hits them - they are NOT going to become the World Champion.

Of course, we all know this, but the point is that sooner or later the attraction of chess is measured against the demands of real life. As much as we love chess, it nearly always loses this battle.

My battle came in late 1983.

After becoming a master in 1982, I had a fairly good year of play in 1983, competing in several tournaments as a master and doing relatively well. If I recall correctly my rating edged up toward 2300.

Slowly but surely, the demands of a job and real life ate away at my ability to play chess consistently and well. This led to a very up and down career. 1982 and 1983 were good, but then things tailed in 84, improved in 85, tailed again, improved again - and so on. I divorced, found love again and remarried, raised a son and got into coaching as he got into chess. As he and his friends got older and stronger, I decided that I needed to refocus again and over all, played better in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.

Then I hit a real dry spell - yes, I was coaching, running chess camps and playing in casual tournaments, but I didn’t play in a serious, two day or longer serious tournament for over 10 years, approaching 15 years.

Was I even a chess player any more? What had real life done to my love of chess?

But it was even worse. In dealing with my career, and several changes to my career, I had slowly let myself get out of shape.

I had lost 54 pounds in the late 1980’s, worked out regularly, and gotten in good shape by the early 1990’s. But now, I had let it all creep back on - at one point weighing 95 pounds more than my low point around 1990 - I reached 242 after a low point of 147.

I had worked and taken off 20 pounds, but struggled to keep it off. I kept working and at one point I got back down to 202 — but then slowly let it creep up again.

My shape and weight control was inconsistent from around 1999 and on.

To add to this, I went through a significant job change - where I was often commuting to and from Florida for my job and to see my wife here in Illinois. My parents were aging and ill, and when they passed, it took a year to wrap up their “easy” estate.

With the financial crisis of 2007-2008, my wife and I lost well over a half million dollars in real estate value, significantly damaging our lifestyle and retirement portfolio.

I was under strain. Work was stressful, we lived in two states, our marriage was stressed, there was financial strain, and I wasn’t doing any of the things I loved.

As a coach, I knew I needed change. And by late 2014 I had decided that I needed to pursue a path to reformulate my life and get it back on track.

I had decided to make a change, and with my next post we finally discuss the changes I’ve been working on and my next steps.