David Smerdon | January 05, 2012 17:45

Resolution Pollution


Ah, the New Year. That magical time of the year when, amazingly, every man and his dog, filled with hope and promise, resolves to change, revamp and improve every aspect of life over the next twelve months.

And then promptly gives up by the first weekend.

In recent years, however, I’ve started taking this whole resolution thing seriously. Perhaps it’s the disciplined, strategic chess player in me, or perhaps I just like the philosophy of new beginnings. Whatever the reason, last year, I carefully and meticulously concocted nine resolutions complete with plans, timelines and measurable outputs.

And the result? Seven from nine. Not a bad strike rate (in chess tournament speak, one might speculate that 7/9 is not quite grandmaster-norm level, but enough to place in a large open…). Some of the more trivial of the success stories that have been followed on this blog in the last 12 months include: “Start grad school”; “Volunteer in a third-world country” and “Learn a second language”.  The two fugitives – “Learn to sing in pitch” and “Learn to play Jack Johnson’s ‘Taylor’ on guitar” – were meant to acknowledge my complete lack of musical ability, but give me enough inspiration and achievability to make a move in a vaguely artistic direction.

They’ve followed on to the 2012 list, which currently stands at eight items – but, given that the world is supposed to end in December 2012, I feel it’s only fair to cut back the list by one.  The biggie on the list this year is curing my insomnia (which regular readers must by now be familiar with from such tales as herehereand here), and work is already in progress (he says, writing this at 4.30am…).  It ties in nicely with “Try at least a full term of yoga”, which apparently helps with this sort of thing (and breathing, and stress, and flexibility, and flat tyres, and tax returns and whatever else hippies claim this aerobic penicillin supposedly solves).

Grad school has not made this little predicament any easier, as it turns out that trying to sleep while algebraic equations float through your head is comparable to chess puzzle dreams (which any chess guy and more importantly chess guys’ girlfriends will tell you makes for a sleepless night).  But the course is not going anywhere, nor getting easier, so, in the light of alternatives, just call me ‘Yogi’.  (Suggestions, remedies and old wives’ tales for insomnia potions welcome, naturally.  Tristan’s recommendation that I add “Grow a goatee” as a resolution has been politely but firmly vetoed.)

Still, a fail on the insomnia front can only mean more time to tackle the other guys on the list.  I’m sure my neighbours won’t mind 4am singing practice, or the dulcet strains of an out-of-tune guitar played by a musicophile.  At least, if the Mayans are right, they only have another 350 days to put up with it.

Happy new year, everyone!

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Author: David Smerdon

David Smerdon is a chess grandmaster from Brisbane, Australia. David attended Anglican Church Grammar School and Melbourne University. To qualify for the title of Grandmaster, a player must achieve three Grandmaster norm performances, and a FIDE Elo rating over 2500. Late in 2007, Smerdon achieved his third and final Grandmaster norm. In the July 2009 FIDE rating list his rating passed 2500, so he qualified for the title of Grandmaster. He is the fourth Australian to become a Grandmaster, after Ian Rogers, Darryl Johansen and Zhao Zong-Yuan. In 2009, Smerdon won the Queenstown Chess Classic tournament.

Source: Wikipedia



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