Sunday, April 12, 2009

Chess vs Golf

As I sit here watching the Masters on TV and the Alberta Closed broadcast on the internet, I am struck by the similarities between these two activities. Both are individual pursuits that require hours of intense concentration; both have star players that electrify events they enter; both have ordinary patzers/duffers that play just for enjoyment; and both have been somewhat of an addiction for me at different times in my life. In each activity every player has an indication of his strength. In chess it is a rating and in golf it is a handicap. This allows the player to track his improvement and judge his performance against his expected result in an event.

There are differences of course. One difference is the number of participants, especially in North America. In my small city on any summer day you can find hundreds of golfers whacking the ball around the course but you would be hard pressed to find anyone playing chess. Also chess is inherently a battle between two players, whereas golf, while it can be in a match format, is usually a one player vs. the field competition.

When I ask myself why I enjoy both of these activities, I think it is because they are both difficult and they allow me to challenge myself. They give me a concrete result of my efforts. In chess it's a win/loss/draw or a performance rating in a tournament. In golf it’s a round score or a tournament score. Plus I enjoy the fact that to improve at either activity you need to put in some effort and practice or study, and when I have the time I can enjoy the practice all most as much as I enjoy the competition.

ps. I see my pick to win the Alberta closed (FM Hansen) has just defeated the top seed IM Proper in round four so is back in contention and my pick to win the Masters (Phil Mickelson) has just birdied 6 holes in the front nine in the final round and put himself into contention.

pps. Golf update: Mickelson double boggied number 12 to drop back and couldn't pull close enough again to win. Angel Cabrera won a three way playoff.
Chess update: FM Hansen and IM Proper tird for first and will have a play-off sometime in the future.


jrobi said...

Nice blog Terry! I have linked it on mine also. Hope things are going well and chess stays fun always!

TerryC said...

Thanks jrobi. I like your site, it is very well done.