There are the usual stories about family gatherings, presents and food, but I was actually more fond of all the ruckus that we kids used to make. The best part was setting off pyrotechnics to scare the crap out of people. Those things had fancy names like "triangles", "whistle bombs" and "watusi". Whistle bombs were my favourites. Think of them as little play dynamite with real BANG! If you were careless, you probably blew off a finger or two, if not a whole hand!
These days I'm no longer setting off anything, of course, what with me being a responsible adult and all. But, now that I live in Japan, the upcoming "bonenkai" season might just be a good enough reason to regress! Temporarily, that is, at least until "shinenkai".
Bonenkai literally means "Forget the year party". It's the thing during this time of year when the locals behave like good little Catholics: they eat, they drink and be merry.
Aftermath of "bonenkai"?
Our mate GM David Smerdon, on the other hand, will not be doing any of that. I doubt if he's ever heard of bonenkai, though we all know he's heard of Christmas. But, he hates it. He hates Christmas! Maybe instead of calling him the Aussie "Atakador" or, as has been his long-time moniker, "smurfo", we should start calling him GM David "The Grinch" Smerdon.
Still, this year he seems to have had a slight change of heart. In association with the Internet Chess Club, GM "The Grinch" is playing quizmaster to what he calls "[t]hirty-two questions of pure, unadulterated festive joy", the Impossible Christmas Quiz.
Well, perhaps not so impossible. This one was easy: "How many languages does Aussie chess starlet Arianne Caoili speak fluently?" One. And I'd bet all my ICC rating points on that!