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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dreaming of Alekhine

Okay, this is going to be a weird post. I should preface it by saying that I’m a pretty logical person who has a fascination with the unexplainable. Having said that, here are the highlights of a dream I had in which Alexander Alekhine gave me chess advice.

I was in a large hall, like a ballroom. There were tables with white cloths everywhere, and stuffy-looking men in dark suits were dining at each one. It was a chess master conference, via the ‘30s sometime, probably.

I recognized quite a few of them but I didn’t see my favorite guy, Alekhine. I remember hoping he was there and hadn’t been forced to miss the conference for whatever reason. I walked around slowly, looking around for a glimpse of the player who, at that time, was the strongest in the world.

I found him way in the back, throwing hundreds of white 8x10 pieces of paper into a large dumpster. I looked at them, and they were chock-full of long division, written in pencil. Each page had an impossibly big division problem on it.

I asked him what he was doing.

He replied that this is what the masters do to practice. He went on to say that when I could do problems like these entirely in my head, I would be ready to become a chess master.

Long division? Really? What the hell did all this mean?

I don’t honestly think Alekhine meant what he said literally. Rather, I think it was a metaphor for chess studying, but I’m not at all sure. If he did mean that I have to do page-long division problems in my head, I’m in real trouble because math is definitely not my forte.

I believe he may instead have been referring to board vision, memorization, maybe playing entire games through in my mind’s eye. I believe he was trying to say that the surface studying that I do (and, let’s face it: who doesn’t?) isn’t going to cut it if I want to be really good at the game. A world champion doesn’t casually watch a few videos and read half a chess book and then go conquer the competition. That just isn’t the way it works.

Weird dream, eh? I’ll never forget it because it seemed so... real. He was there, I fully believe that. But what did his cryptic message mean?

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