As I understand it, though my chess history is seriously ropey, there was a famous instance in which Bobby Fischer, before a long-anticipated matchup with Russian foe Boris Spassky, did not even enter the arena of play for the opening ceremony, to the irie of the assembled crowd and befuddlement of his opposite number (who sat and waited for several hours to no avail). The opposition camp and media accused Bobby of mind games, his home camp claimed stage fright, the truth never outed but the match was postponed and it all added to the anticipation and enigma of Bobby.

For me, the ‘no show’ debacle took on new meaning during my chess week, clarifying one thing to me about the game of chess: opening moves are fraught with pressure. A friend of mine – chess expert and tutor to plenty of accomplished players – underlined this in an email offering some tips on where to get started, listing specific moves you should and shouldn’t open with, hinting about specific pieces and mentioning opening move strategies. Suddenly I felt like my opening move in chess week might be to ‘do a Bobby’ and run for the hills. To complicate matters further, my travels across the USA had brought me, this week, to Portland OR, where my wife and I were tearing around taking in sights, culture and food. I had to be honest with myself as the week wore on, I neither had the opponents, tutelage nor (most importantly) time to completely commit to playing chess.

By the end of the week, two things had happened: firstly, I’d killed all available downtime playing chess against my wife or my iPad, getting to the point where I could beat the former within 30 minutes and the computer (set to easiest difficulty level) in around 5-10 minutes. Secondly, a new weekly challenge emerged, dropping unexpectedly into my lap and removed me completely from my comfort zone in the form of Swing Dancing (to be shared shortly).

So, on one side of the coin, a failure – my own naivety and lack of time had done a Knight’s move on my weekly challenge – but on the other, I had fronted up, been honest and adapted to circumstance much more fluidly than I would have before My Year in Flux began.