F**k It – I’m Taking Up Chess!

I say this at least once a week. In the past it has been due to a variety of reasons from having a toenail removed by a hoof to getting caught in lashing rain at shows while a pony delightedly refused to load. Last week it was having to traipse around a field to catch a horse who just knew I didn’t have time to both catch and ride it. This week it was due to the horse thinking that ‘screw this I’m cantering home’ was the appropriate response to seeing a pig about 5% her size which was neither moving nor making a sound. I can’t actually play chess but I can still see the appeal of it.

Equipment for horse riding includes thousands of euros of tack, grooming products, clothing, transportation and rugs. Throw in side saddle, the Chanel of equestrian disciplines, and you can double the cost. Equipment for chess includes a clock and a chessboard. My chess board at home (which isn’t used but hopefully is giving visitors the illusion of me being an intellectual type) cost a fiver.

Chess can take place anywhere from outdoors (on the two days a year where it isn’t cold or p*ssing rain) to indoors (for the other 363 days of the year). Playing chess at home doesn’t involve hoping that the weather is okay, that a space is available and that the chess set decides it is in the humour to be used. Playing chess competitively doesn’t involve wearing your best most expensive clothing while freezing your ass off and worrying that your toes will break off you from the cold. It doesn’t involve getting soaked to the skin or getting slobbered on. It doesn’t involve sweating buckets in a jacket on a rare summer day.

When it comes to competitions chess seems like a great thing altogether. Sure the worse that can happen is you come second! I mean picture it – “how did you get on?”, “oh great came second”, “well done!”, “thanks I’m delighted”. Isn’t that a lot more appealing than “fell off”, “ah few problems here and there” (aka total disaster) or “pulled in last” or “finished eighth”?

Then there is the safety aspect of it all. It’s amazingly hard to get bitten, kicked, lose toe or finger nails or end up smelling of haylage and wet horse while playing chess. Falling off is also a bit of a non-event. In fact if you can manage to fall off a chess board it might be time to lay off the drink for a while.


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