Recently I met my brother in law’s grandfather (affectionately called Anna). I was surprised that this 88 year old chess enthusiast was so fit at his age. He runs a chess club in Sangli and organizes a National level chess tournament every year. During chatting with him I discovered the secret of his good health. As a young 14 year old growing up in a village near Sangli he was fascinated by chess. The best chess player he knew was the local Brahmin priest. The priest had been undefeated for ages and demanded a rupee as a wager for every game. Now a rupee at that time in India (early 1930s) was a lot of money. An entire sack of rice was available for only 3 paisa. Anna found that local wrestling matches (kusti) would pay him quarter rupee per match. So he signed up at the local gym and trained to be a wrestler. Every morning he would do close to 1000 squats and 1000 push ups. Very soon he became one of the renowned wrestlers in the area winning up to 200 rupees in a match. However he kept spending most of his money on chess as he kept losing to the said priest.
I was really fascinated when I heard this story. What I found truly inspirational was Anna’s love for the game of chess. Many of us give up if we are not good at something. However to truly love something (be it a sport, a career or even a woman) there is a sense of self –abnegation. It is more about what you do for your love not what you get from it.