Resolution Pollution

Posted by David Smerdon on Jan 5, 2012 in Non-chess |

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 here, here and 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!

1 Comment

Sue Anne Reed
Jan 8, 2012 at 4:27 pm


I’m hoping you can help me promote a great project I’m working on with StartSomeGood. We help worthy causes crowdraise for their ventures. We have a great venture — BottomUp Chess Academy — trying to raise $1,500 to bring chess to students in South Africa.

Many of the schools that BottomUp works with in South Africa are in the very poorest areas. The students are from low-income / no-income families. BottomUp uses chess as a fun way of teaching mathematics and critical thinking skills.

You can find out more about the venture here: … and you can donate to the campaign here:

Thank you for your consideration,

Sue Anne

Sue Anne Reed
Director of Engagement



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