The Chess and Music Blog

Thoughts on playing

Now read in 142 countries worldwide*

Bob at the piano (compressed)
The author, Robert Samuels, playing Ah! Vous dirai-je, maman (Mozart’s variations)

This blog shares my thoughts on two fields which engage the obsessive-compulsive side of my personality. I am an enthusiastic and unrepentantly mediocre player, whether playing music or playing chess.

That is to say, there are many contexts in which other people think I am quite a good player. As far as music is concerned, these are of course the contexts to which I try to confine myself: playing the piano at a community fund-raising event, playing the organ (very mediocre) at church. But musically, I am always chasing after the music I can hear, and know ought to be coming from the instrument. An endless quest that leaves me in genuine awe of those who really can produce the music that remains, for me, ideal. And so I teach music, I talk about it whenever I am asked, I write about it, I research into it. Because I cannot, quite, play it as I want.

Bob Samuels playing chess
The author, Robert Samuels, playing the Nimzo-Indian Defence (Capablanca variation)

As far as the game of chess goes, my standard of play is astoundingly similar. I might seem quite a good player in a casual or friendly game; I am proud to play for the fourth-best of my local chess club’s five teams. But in every serious game, I chase after the elusive brilliance I can admire in others, but never quite recapture myself.

And so I am writing this blog in the same spirit as I write about music: to try to understand what it is that enthralls me. I am convinced that the similarity of my competence in each field is no accident. The connections are multiple.

Do not expect posts in this blog to be either regular or systematic. But they will be thoughtful.

*My total includes one country described by WordPress as “The European Union”. Since the EU member states are identified separately, I do not know exactly to where this refers. If there is a reader in a territory that belongs only to the EU and not to a member state, I would be delighted to hear from them.

3 thoughts on “The Chess and Music Blog”

  1. My spouse and I totally really like your site and discover the vast majority of your post’s to be just what I’m seeking. could you offer visitor internet writers to post content material to suit your needs?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s very kind of you, Larence. Glad you like the blog. By all means post things in the comments — even lengthy ones are great — but I don’t have plans to post material by other authors, because that seems too complicated to me. If you have your own blog on the subject, though, I might well be happy to link to it.


  3. I believe that knowing that the brilliance is there, but just out of reach, is what makes for brilliance. You don’t say that you are content with mediocrity, nor that others say you are mediocre, you say that you consider yourself mediocre but that there is a brilliance you know is there. That is why you will always be better tomorrow than today. I do not believe that the masters, either in music or chess, consider themselves to have reached the brilliance that they see themselves capable of. That is why they are masters, because they are always striving to reach that point.

    Your post has given me a powerful insight. Thank you.


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