10 years ago my Russian parents-in-law visited for the first time Belgium to attend the wedding of their daughter and me. Of course there was also time to do some sightseeing but the trip to our cold North Sea gave them without doubt the most pleasure. Normally my parents-in-law are very quiet people but they couldn't hide their emotions when seeing the see. Without possessing swimsuits , they took off their upper clothes and ran into the sea. They danced and laughed in the water for some time while I smiled on the beach viewing this peculiar picture. The most nearby sea for Ufa, where my parents-in-law are living, is the Kaspian Sea and that is still 17 hours driving by car so not something easy to do.
Now the other way around it also happens that my parents-in-law smile when we Belgians react super enthusiastic for some very ordinary stuff in Russia. In the past Christmas holidays we organised a real hunt for stalactites. What? Well while here in Belgium the temperature was around +10 degrees, we had in the second week temperatures around -20 degrees. The cold let grew everywhere stalactites with amazing speed. Most are hanging intangible. Besides you better stay away from them as it can hurt you a lot when such stalactite breaks off. I was told that each year some people die being hit by them when ice starts to melt. Fortunately we can also find some closer to the ground. Nonetheless we asked our children not to touch parked cars as otherwise their alarm could go off. Below a picture of my daughter proudly posing with one of her catches.
Gloves aren't redundant when holding such stalactite as they are really extremely cold.
With this unorthodox introduction I bring up a complex theme: fun. You can find it in the most unimportant things but it is for everybody different as it among other things depends a lot of the surprise-element. The importance of seeking and finding fun can't be underestimated as it is the engine of happiness.
Chessplayers tend sometimes to forget having fun due to their addiction of ratingpoints. Last I got from HK5000 a link to a training-program to help a 2200 become an IM in only 2 years. It looked at first glance professional and probably it is a successful formula but I miss any fun. Suppose you followed the program meticulously and achieve the IM-titel, what is next? 3 model-students are presented on the site: Vladimir Evelev, Arthur Gabrielian and Nikolai Kurenkov but 2 of them already stopped playing competitions years ago.
No I am convinced that having fun is crucial to keep the chess-microbe in your veins otherwise you quit as so many others. On schaaksite the Dutch grandmaster Dimitri Reinderman asks oneself in an article about comic chess-moves ,what would make a chess-mother smile. First some complex ideas were proposed in which also my articles excelsior, problem moves, interferences, the horizon,... can be categorized but likely this won't create much excitement for a novice. Clear simple themes are to be recommended in this case. I remember from my youth that I got a lot of pleasure from the serie better playing chess. Each book discuss simple themes around 1 piece but I believe the serie didn't get further than queen and king (which I both possess). Besides I noticed a couple of weeks ago by accident an advertising on schaaksite for a new serie about the chess pieces but I expect it is rather for advanced players this time.
What are simple themes? The titel already gives it away as a crazy rook definitely belongs to this category. For any player with some experience this is child's play. I even found a club in Belgium calling themselves the crazy rook. Anyway we already longtime forgot how we reacted the first time meeting this theme. I did the test with my son Hugo, as a 6 years old making his first moves in our chessworld see eg Christmas tournament in Deurne and yes his shining eyes betrayed that he liked the crazy rook once he understood the mechanism.
This doesn't mean that more experienced players can't enjoy anymore crazy rooks. The famous Dutch Tim Krabbe spent quite some time to elaborate this theme in much more complex variations. Below beautiful example from the problem-world is strong evidence.
A variation of the same idea of the same author can be found here. But also in standard practice we can find some nice examples. A collection can be found on this site. I selected the last one which is amazingly a game between engines.
Computers are today so strong that they often surprise us and even can make us happy. Anyway I enjoyed a lot HK5000 previous article which ones more showed how absurdly strong the tablebases are.
It is fortunately also possible to get regularly surprised by the little things happening around us. You just need to keep your eyes open. A couple of months ago I witnessed the end of a game in Open Leuven which surprised me and made me smile.
Many games of chess have been played so maybe a crazy rook against rook instead of king has happened before but to me this was something refreshing and new. Anyway it looks like a cute theme to build a study or problem around it but maybe this will again diminish the x-factor.
Keeping the eyes open is maybe a little to simple to make such discoveries as my wife often asks me why I once more am smiling. Often only after explaining her the point, she can also enjoy. Previously Tim Krabbe with his chess curiosities made sure we don't miss anything juicy. Today such single point of contact doesn't exist anymore. Anyway if I see something special then I will share this on the blog.