My editor recently sent me the draft blurb for Chess Nuts, which will contain something like:
Julia Lawrinson isn’t a chess nut herself, but she is the mother of one and married to another. In fact, Julia’s husband might be a little like Mr F, and Julia’s ferociously independent daughter might have partly inspired the character of Anna.
In the accompanying email, she asked me to disregard her playing a little wild and loose with the truth. This is because I am a chess nut, in the same way I am a Scrabble addict, and in the same way I used to spend my disposable income (about $2 a week, as I recall) on Gaplus and Galaxian at inner city kebab joints (and in the process did my joints in – RSI by electronic equipment is not a recent invention). These activities have in common my utter crapness at them, and yet my willingness to believe that if I just keep playing, I’ll get better. I am fascinated by the theory of chess, its moves, its warrior history, its beautiful symmetry and logic. I just fall apart in endgames, where my appreciation of the fine artistry of the board and its pieces does not translate into preventing dumb-ass moves, such as forgetting that the dark-squared bishop will, if I take my protecting pawn away, wipe out my rook on the dark square. Still, I remain optimistic that one day – one day – I will play a game which will not cause me to moan in frustration at its conclusion, or berate myself for the move that cost me the game, or wonder how the hell I got checkmated when I thought I had my defences all sorted.
You can see why chess makes a good metaphor for life and the things we fill it with.