My brain is more melty now than it's been in a long time. A night of Dune and AdCiv and Illuminati with a room of IMSA geeks do not do this to my brain. I think the problem is that I just know NOTHING about chess. I play it like once every few years, usually against either someone way better or way worse than me. I don't know any of the theory. I don't know any "openings". I don't know anything about "controlling the center". I don't know what my moves "mean". I don't have any high level cognitive understanding of the game beyond the rules. It's like I know notes but not chords.
So when I play I have to reinvent the entire game every time. And I'm a smart guy so I can hold my own sometimes. Fumbling in the dark I can make some occasional smart moves and usually avoid the bad ones. But I am still fumbling in the dark and sometimes I happen to get lucky. I think when I do well it is only because I play so badly that people get thrown off...thinking I've got something up my sleeve.
Anyway, I now need to just veg my brain out for a while and recover. Wow.