The typical setup for a game of chess involves so much more than just a board and 32 pieces when you play as poorly as I do. Dozens of scraps of paper covered with crabbed notes from Staunton's Chess-Player's Handbook (I adore his bitchy attitude and disdain for weak players such as myself), a scratch pad where I can notate my imminent demise, a lucky rabbit's foot, a picture of my sainted mother for inspiration, a cellophane envelope reputed to contain a splinter from a nunchaku reputedly used by Bruce Lee (patron saint of self-defense) — it's a wonder I can even see the board. Not that it matters, because my openings are atrocious, and my defense is scattershot. Perhaps it's time to simplify the approach and focus solely on practice. Every Monday from 6 to 8 p.m., the St. Louis Public Library (1301 Olive Street; www.slpl.org) offers Chess in the Great Hall. You can use your library card to check out a game board and play other devotees, and also benefit from the readily available cache of chess books. Not that I'm blaming Staunton for my deficiencies, mind you; I'm just saying I could benefit from some newer advice.
Mondays. Starts: Dec. 29. Continues through March 30, 2008