Tuesday 16 October 2012

Can you really retire from chess?

Francisco Vallejo Pons did not have a good time of it in the Grand Slam Masters tournament. While his finishing position was to be expected, as he was the bottom seed, he seemed somewhat upset by the nature of his play. Clearly he had a number of good positions during the event, but he was unable to convert these into wins, often blowing up in time trouble.
So he has followed the lead of a couple of other leading players, and announced his 'retirement' from chess. Most famously, Vassily Ivanchuk had done this after being knocked out of the World Cup in 2009. However Ivanchuk soon calmed down, and reversed his decision. As the circumstances leading up to Vallejo's retirement are similar, it would not be surprising if this decision is reversed as well.
But can you really retire from chess? Certainly you can cut back your playing schedule, or even stop playing, but is this a retirement or just an extended break. I'm sure that players who say they are giving up the game still think about it, still analyse, and still try and find ways of being a better player. So even if you aren't playing, are you still a chess player? I would answer yes, especially as you can usually come back at any time. But of course I am basing my observations on the fact that the longest break I've had from chess in the last 25 years has been about 3 months. Maybe those who have stepped away from the game have a different opinion on the matter.

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