Sep 232010
Marcel Duchamp: played chess on his honeymoon

Last Saturday my wife and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary and our thirteenth year together as a couple. Despite all of the jokes that I suffered in the immediate aftermath of our nuptials, about no longer being allowed out of the house unattended, I must say that being married has not in any way impeded my commitment to the game. Conversely, nor has my chess addiction had an adverse effect on our marriage. After all, having been together for so long my wife knew exactly what she was getting when she tied the knot.

In fact, I suspect that the love of my life feels there are numerous, and far more reprehensible pastimes to which she could have been metaphorically “widowed”. Never the less, I feel lucky to have found someone who accepts my need to spend long hours indulging in an activity that most people consider to be a boring waste of time!

Chess mania is certainly capable of causing marital disharmony. No cautionary tale is more graphic than that of artist and chess player Marcel Duchamp who, having already succumbed completely to his own chess addiction made the rather naive decision to get hitched to a lady called Lydie Sarrazin-Levassor in 1927. On their honeymoon in the south of France he immediately proceeded to commit a heinous infidelity by spending most of his time playing games at the Nice Chess Club and studying problems (“self mates” I imagine!) in their hotel suite. Finally, his irate bride decided that enough was enough and glued his chess pieces to their board whilst he was asleep! The marriage only lasted three months after which Duchamp was able, once again, to devote himself entirely to his jealous and demanding “mistress”.

I don’t think I’ll ever get to the stage where I’ll be trying my wife’s patience to the extent that Duchamp was with poor Lydie. Compared to Duchamp — and at serious risk of stretching the “infidelity” metaphor to breaking point — I am only flirting drunkenly with a very attractive lady who is completely out of my league and who will, as she always does, spurn my clumsy advances with a crushing put down just at the moment I’m starting to think, “Hello, I might be in here!”

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