There are some games that you should never play with other people, let alone with yourself. Chess is not one of them. As a boy, I spent many days playing chess with myself, thereby becoming the cause of many merry japes amongst my family.
Playing with yourself? they would ask.
Or sometimes, Who's winning?
Of course, I would answer. Why shouldn't a boy be allowed to play with himself once in a while? Is there a law against a boy playing with himself in moderation? And why are you interested, anyway? It's not as if you know me or are related to me, you're just my parents.
And, as those who have played chess with themselves will know, you can learn a lot from the experience. You don't just learn how to win and lose, or draw and draw, simultaneously. Oh, no!
How to win and draw at the same time!
How to win and win at the same time (harder than it seems)
And even, how to lose and lose at the same time
I found the last category the easiest to achieve.
In short, I think that chess is a most instructive game, even when played with other people.
But there are some sports and competitions that are best avoided. Like eating whale burgers at a Greenpeace convention, they may be the cause of social, and possibly even literal, death. Here is a brief list of some of those games ...
PLAYING STRIP POKER WITH THE TALIBAN
Those guys never take it well. Oh, it's alright if they're winning. But if they lose. If they lose ...!
PLAYING HIDE AND SEEK IN THE DESERT WITH AN AGOROPHOBIC
This is to be avoided at all times, and in all social situations. I have learned, at great expense to myself and my family, that at some point it will be necessary to call a psychiatrist in. It's just not worth it.
PLAYING TABLE TENNIS WITH COBRAS AS BATS AND WITH BUTTERFLIES AS SHUTTLECOCKS
This would be a particularly idiotic pursuit to indulge in. Not only will it be extremely difficult to hit the butterflies, but the cobras will keep on trying to wriggle out of your hands, bite you, and even eat the butterflies.
PLAYING SOCCER WITH A CUSTARD PIE
You ungrateful sods. What would your mother think, after cooking that custard pie for you?
BLIND MAN'S BLUFF WITH A BLIND MAN
It's just no fun when the other side wins all the time.
PLAYING THIS LITTLE PIGGY WITH CHILDREN WHO HAVE HAD THEIR LIMBS AMPUTATED
Insensitive bastard that you are. You'd have to play the game with the children's teeth, and do you have any idea how ridiculous they'd find that idea?
A GAME OF MURDER IN THE DARK WITH JACK THE RIPPER AND SYDNEY NORTH-SHORE SCHOOLGIRLS
Are you MAD??? Those schoolgirls would tear Jack the Ripper apart!!!
PICTIONARY WITH HITLER AND WOODY ALLEN
As any good history student would know, Hitler never did like parlour games, so it would just be rude to invite him along. If such a difficult social situation were to occur, have a quiet word with Woody Allen, and quickly put the Pictionary set away and go and take out the croquet sticks instead.
SKYDIVING WITH A BRICK PARACHUTE
This is an idea that, as they say, would never get off the ground; but, if you did manage to get it off the ground it would, as they say, go down like a lead balloon. If you want to take up skydiving, consult a professional skydiver, who will undoubtedly advise you that there are much better materials to make your parachute out of, ie: spider web, papier-mache, cow-hide, and such and such.
Until then, stick to skydiving from the top of your grand-piano.
A SPELLING BEE WITH A DYSLEXIC GIRAFFE AND A NEAR-SIGHTED DOVE
Don't be stupid. In the first place, nobody would be able to hear the giraffes answers; in the second place, doves can't speak English, they can only speak Pidgin; and in the third place, how are you going to be able to get the dove and the giraffe in the same room at the same time? The logistics of the whole thing are impossible.
TEACHING A CHILD WITH ATTENTION DEFICIT DISORDER HOW TO PLAY PATIENCE
Like playing Strip Poker with the Taliban, this is just not on. There are, in fact, whole books of card-games that you should never play: 52 Pickup for People with Broken Backs, Gin Rummy with Alcoholics, or, that perennial non-favourite, 500 For People Who Never Learned How To Count Past Five.
ONE PERSON RUSSIAN ROULETTE
On this subject, few words are best.
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