Ghomi and Chess

In my long-suffering youth, I had written a small story named “Ghomi1 and Peace”. Although, it is just a story and an echo of a title of a great book. But this – this is a real narrative and my personal chess story.

My childhood day of chess usually coincided with a feast of Ghomi, because my father mostly played chess with me on Sundays, and my mother mostly made Ghomi on Sundays. This was a family tradition, passed down to my mother from my Megrelian grandmother and this tradition (to some extent) also meant restoring an Eucharistic connection with Samegrelo, because through numerous decades, my grandmother used to live in Tbilisi, on Saburtalo street. Lived and suffered without her homeland Samegrelo.

As I already mentioned above, for our family, each Sunday was not only a day of Ghomi, but also chess, because back then, unlike the students nowadays, we had to attend school on Saturdays as well. And so, any other type of entertainment was forbidden for us on any other day (other than Sunday). To be perfectly honest, my deceased father was not as strict (as it seemed at first glance), though, I can barely remember us playing chess on any other day. For my father, Sunday was the day to play chess at home.

Since, for my mother (unlike my father) the same Sunday was a necessary and holy ritual of making Ghomi and I was a participant (almost simultaneous) of both of these processes, in my subconscious, they became forever linked to each other, so whenever I see chess, I always remember Ghomi and when I eat Ghomi, I think about the chess moves. From this standpoint, I very much resemble one of the dogs trained by some scientist named Pavlov, who conducted many different experiments on the dog, but the result was the same – on the days I have eaten Ghomi, it is honestly impossible to beat me at chess, but if I’m playing chess and missing Ghomi, then any passer-by can easily defeat me.

Ghomi was also the reason why, in childhood, I became a school chess champion. If our school’s championship was held on any other day (and not Sunday), of course, someone else would’ve become a champion – not me. Otherwise, who could have stopped me on the Sunday when my mother drowned me in Ghomi filled with Sulguni cheese early in the morning and sent me to school, all happy and fulfilled?! The school tournament was held by Zurab Azmaiparashvili himself, as a guest and a real chess player. At first, Mr. Zurab shook hands with each of us (students) and then wished us luck. 

A couple dozen students (who wanted to become the school chess champion) of Tbilisi 57th middle school pleasurably clashed with each other and so began a historic tournament. In the beginning (in spite of being fully fed with Ghomi), I was not quite sure that I would win (that historic tournament) and become the school champion, but slowly, as I approached the semi-finale (thanks to the Olympic system and magical Ghomi), I got so over-confident that I easily reached the final and in the final I was against Gogi Bazghadze.

Bazghadze was one year older than me and was acknowledged as the tournament leader and future winner, so much so, that I even started thinking about making do with the second place, but in the middle of the game, Gogi Bazghadze bent over to pick up a fallen Pawn and has not come back up for a long time.

I kept waiting and waiting and when he didn’t appear, I went under the table myself and could not believe my eyes – Bazghadze was sitting on the floor, smiling and holding the pawn, which did not fall accidentally, but (in reality) was dropped on purpose by Gogi, who, apparently, was waiting for me.

“Maybe you could let me win” – he told me so suddenly that I almost really gave up the most important chess match of my life (in a split second), but I quickly came to my senses and smiled at Gogi Bazghadze in a way that he probably realized, without me saying a word, what kind of cosmic Ghomi my mother was capable of making, my mother, who was bestowed with this talent as an inheritance from my grandmother.

The tournament was historic, because it was the only chess championship held at Tbilisi 57th middle school (in the school history) and I was the sole winner of that single tournament. Hence, to this day, I am still the champion of the 57th School.

Zurab Azmaiparashvli was not able to give me (personally hand to me) a special prize (an autobiography of Anatoly Karpov in Russian) meant for the winner, because the prize winners were awarded on a completely different day and on that day, I was already ill.

And exactly then, while lying in bed, I made the first commercial decision of my life.

Because my parents weren’t rich (ever) and never pampered me by gifting money, I decided to take care of my financial income myself. That’s when my idea to make money playing chess was born. The idea was simple – I had to start playing chess while placing bets, which meant that the loser had to pay me (I mean, pay the winner) a certain amount of money (the amount was discussed beforehand). Now, all I had to do was find a young chess player, who would agree to play for money.

Finding a person as young as me, who had such rich parents and loved chess so much that he would not even regret paying me 10 Manetis (Soviet Georgian currency) turned out to be extremely hard to find (for a long time) and that is why, I wasn’t able to buy a Suzi Quatro poster, which cost exactly 10 Maneti…

Ghomi1 – A Traditional Georgian Dish