21 March 2005

Checkmate


Board games played a huge part of my formative years. I remember us visiting our well-off cousins in Aurora Hill, and if we're not spending the afternoon in the playhouse, or visiting the creek, or hunting for clay, we'd be in their living room playing Monopoly. My brother and I also frequented then-Coronado Inn (where Tiong San Bazaar Harisson in Baguio now stands), where we either read comic books or played Game of the Generals, Chinese checkers, or Chess. Scrabble came in a bit later.

But of all these board games, I found Chess to be most intriguing. I was in fifth grade when I started playing chess. I read some books on strategy at that time as well, but not to the point that I can recognize signature moves. I played for the simple fun of it.

My enthusiasm, however, waned later on til junior high, when two of my best buddies would spend entire afternoons in the house playing chess. Sonny had a medium-sized chess set in their place, but we do not usually hang out there. So we make do with this pocket chess set which I have. I think that's when my eyesight started to give way. I remember Leo doing this "retract the piece" when he discovers he made a mistake in his most recent move, so we had to impose the "touch-move" rule every time, or else the games would take longerthan it should, and the supposed winner loses in the end because of all the retracted moves. I hope Leo doesn't read this :-)

In college, I wasn't able to find time to play chess much anymore. Though I survived for the most part in the online chess tournaments at Yahoo! Games in the mid-90s when I was issued an office laptop which I brought home on weekends.

I was excited nonetheless to receive this elegant chess set from Francis Carigma last Christmas. It is so reminiscent of the chess set used by Magneto and Professor Xavier in the first X-Men movie. Glass board and chess pieces, with one army frosted and the other transparent. I thought it would be difficult to play on such a set but my wife and I found it to be just right. I saw a variation of this chess set, with one army sporting a black color. But it does not look as nice as this. The black pieces are solid black, and looked too plastic, unfortunately. Had it been made transparent too, with matching black, transparent tiles on the board, it would have made an elegant board.

By the way, if you would like to have one of these for yourself or as a gift for a chess enthusiast, I saw some at the men's wallets and belts section of Landmark (ground floor) in Makati. The one I have fills up half the space of our living room table, but there is a smaller, more handy version. They make excellent display items, and for play too!
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