Today I'm tossing out my chess trophies as well. I had to deliberate somewhat, before arriving at this decision. Felt a little sentimental about them. I decided to take a photo, before they all go into the bin. There:
I still have another collection of trophies in my parents' home. Left them there, after I got married and moved out.
These are just silly pieces of metal, wood and plastic, but I have some fond memories attached to them. I used to represent my secondary school, junior college, university and constituency. As a teenager, I also used to go around to different community centres (or clubs, as they're now known) to take part in chess competitions.
Among other things, I've been the SJI individual champion; the VJC individual champion; and the NUS men's individual champion. In team competitions, we've won the National Inter-Clubs first division several times. From secondary two up to junior college, I won a medal in the National Junior Individuals' Chess Championships every year. I even competed overseas a few times.
But also I enjoyed chess, because it brought me into contact with many quirky, interesting people whom I otherwise would not have met. And many of them became my good friends.
I think I gained a lot from this game. It taught me to be comfortable with complexity and uncertainty (and that's often how life is, complex and uncertain). I also learned to stay cool and think sharp under pressure, an attribute which has helped me in exam halls, courtrooms and corporate boardrooms. Another lesson I learned was to neither underestimate nor overestimate people, based on their appearances. Because appearances can be very deceptive ....
There's a fairly recent book by ex-world chess champion Garry Kasparov. It's entitled How Life Imitates Chess. I've not really read the book, but only browsed through different chapters at a bookstore.
It's not your usual "How to Play the Sicilian Defence" or "How to Play Rook Endgames" chess book focusing on some technical aspect of the game. Instead it's a book where Garry uses analogies and examples drawn from the game of chess, to discuss strategies for business, personal life and politics. (Note that after Kasparov retired from chess, he ventured into politics, and in fact, was a candidate for President of Russia in 2008).
I found it interesting to browse through Kasparov's book. Like many other serious chessplayers, I had realised long ago that many chess strategies are also applicable in real life. However, Kasparov's book is the first which really attempts to discuss how lessons learned at the chessboard can also be valuable elsewhere.
But in the end, I didn't buy the book. Because by the time I came across the book, I had already stopped playing chess for years. Much as I used to love this game, it's now a thing of the past for me.
And that's why I'm throwing out my chess trophies too.