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Happiness is…

January 2, 2014

Ticking the last item off from a to do list.

 

I have just had a lovely afternoon (posting of this blog will be hit and miss, and might well be delayed: the internet seems pretty lousy today; the post will come when it comes).

I asked Didi, the head of food and beverages at our resort, what this particular plant was.

 

It is from the Pandanus, screw plant family. Wikipedia tells me there are over six hundred varieties. Didi told me that they use the pineapple like flower for food, including eating the visible pods, when red, raw. One of the waiters came over to join us, and they showed me some other Pandanus family plants, and the waiter said the fateful statement: please ask us any other questions, we like it when guests show an interest.

Well, I didn't need to hesitate: I mentioned that on the island back tour I had seen a chess set in a prominent position in the staff cafė: 'do many people play chess here'. 'We all do'. When I told him I loved the game, he asked if I wanted a game there and then, so Didi and I went to the bar and set up the pieces.

He was happy to either play international chess or Maldivian chess: there seemed to be very few differences, he told me what they were (pawns move forward only one square, no castling, king and queen start in the opposite squares to their placement in international chess) so I said I was happy to play Maldivian chess.

We played two games, and in chatting it turned out that he was one of the weaker players on the island. He told me that in the last tournament- the staff have regular tournaments- he was knocked out in the first round.

After two games of Maldivian chess (2-0) we played one of international chess. (1-0)

Various waiters came to watch, and a good conversation and a lot of laughter followed. A great thing about chess is that it can start the conversation off on other subjects. We talked a lot about the education system in the Maldives, and how in recent years English has become the language all subjects are taught in, with Dhivehi now only been used in Islamic studies and for teaching Dhivehi itself. Exams are done under Cambridge University syllabi.

The final position of our final game was somewhat like this (a lot like this: can't be sure of all the minor details). The last two moves were 1 Ncb5 (rather than 1 Q*c4) Nb6 2 Nb5c7 mate, a little combination as a crowd pleaser.

 

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