An idea that has been thrown around a lot for my entire life as a chess player is the “chess nerd”.
This guy is the stereotypical chess player who shuffles around the school yard, while trying not to be pushed down stairs by bullies and who hopes to make it to the library in one piece.
If he manages to get there he’ll spend 40 or so minutes moving (mostly broken) plastic figurines around a chequered board, while quietly snorting in pleasure under his (bad) breath and nervously adjusting his suspenders.
Excuse my massive generalisation guys haha. 🙂
But…Its basically this guy.
Typical characteristics of this guy might be:
- Low self esteem (many chess nerds seek refuge inside intellectual games from the pressures of the “real” world).
- Above average intelligence
- Above average math skills
- An interest in computers/programming
- A fear of posting their picture online (so they’ll hide behind a cartoon, computer game or “anonymous” avatar)
- Poor social skills
- Poor dress sense
- Poor hygiene
- Compulsion to correct other people’s mistakes (and thus boost their fragile self-esteem), one example might be the dreaded “Grammar Nazi”).
I am certainly not writing this from a “holier than thou” perspective as I hate that type of hypocrisy and indeed used to love playing chess in high school.
I had pretty low self-esteem and I was interested in computers.
I also used to “bully the bullies” who tried to stand over fellow chess players in my presence, as well as giving my chess player friends advice about getting a girlfriend and this type of thing.
I was once expelled from a high school for fighting, the same day as I won the district’s schools chess championship with a score of 7/7.
The chess players were my “other” friends who I spent a lot of time with when not doing “cool” things like playing football and trying to get girls.
I often found myself conflicted and wondering “which group to hang with” at lunch time.
I wanted to be friends with everyone.
So I guess you could have called me a hybrid, or “cool nerd” haha.
Maybe I just wanted to “fit in” like most kids. 🙂
So ridiculous is the high school social system.
What I wanted to talk about today was how some people cling onto these “nerd habits” (mentioned in bulletpoints above) in adulthood (aka never grow up) and how it sometimes pisses me off, but also amuses me in a way.
When some chess nerds grow up they remain living with their parents well into their 30s and only leave the “spare room” (aka basement, garage, etc) to use the bathroom or when their parents call them for dinner.
They then emerge from their dungeon with black rings around their eyes – yawning, despite it being 4pm in the afternoon.
I have SEVERAL chess friends who are like this, its not uncommon!
Others spend their entire life at university and become “academics” so that they will gain a free license to stand around other nerds and theorise about abstract, “theoretical” things.
They love to scoff and massage their egos (they converse on only the topic they majored in) to justify spending more than half of their lifetime doing nothing.
They would never dream of getting a job or having a relationship (with someone other than their cat).
I am not talking about the top scientists and geniuses whose brilliant work keeps our society moving forward.
This is certainly not every chess player either.
Its just the one brand of chess player which I don’t like.
When I write on this blog I like to treat it as a 1-1 conversation with you, and often I’m just throwing some things down which I wanna share with you, as we would if we were having a beer (or glass of cognac!) together and chatting.
I am not focussing on assuring that my grammar is perfect or making sure that I don’t offend male feminists and social justice warriors.
I am simply sharing my thoughts and experience with worldwide chess friends.
These guys are smart enough to understand me, even WITH the occasional grammatical mistake.
So yesterday somebody posted on talkchess.com a review I did of an excellent chess engine Prodeo 2.0 and this review has been pretty well received, even by the author of the engine (who is one of my favourite chess programmers, actually).
And today, I noticed it.
I also noticed the following comment by chess nerd Shawn Chidester:
LOL, I can imagine him snapping his suspenders and snorting as he utters those words.
This guy didn’t mention anything about the content of the review, about the engine which I was reviewing or about the website which it was posted on.
I would have no problem if he wrote something like:
“As a chess programmer I can agree with your opinion that style is more important than strength in chess engines and I did like the article. I ALSO however, noticed a couple of grammatical mistakes, but thats not a big issue”
It shows that he gives a balanced and fair opinion, and is a little more tactful when giving constructive criticism.
This is called having “social skills” and something which (as mentioned above) nerds don’t have.
What this guy did is cherry-pick something he didn’t like and post some snorting nerd shit with the aim of pulling another person down.
If you want to be civil and enjoy exploring and improving your understanding of chess together, this blog is a great place to hang out.
If you want to be petty and poke holes at my writing to boost your low self-esteem, get back your basement and be prepared for retaliation.
If you provoke a Lion, you’re gonna (d’ya like my grammar there?) get bitten.
I hope that this will end this issue and I can now focus on what I do best.
I’ll leave you with a hilarious video on the issue of Grammar Nazis.
Pretty funny huh? Ok I’m off to make a video lesson on Bobby Fischer!
Until next time…your chess coach,