I’m craving a good game of chess right now, but that’s no different then three or four other days in the week. Chess like art, is my way of relaxing and expressing myself. It’s a way of seeing my mind and emotions unveil themselves right before my very eyes on a board. Chess is a way of stimulating the contemplative side of myself and bolstering the problem solving side of my personality. It’s a game that has been around for centuries to teach patience, sound tactical judgment, and has helped mold the minds of some of the greatest thinkers and military leaders in history. I was taught the game by my uncle Douglas.
After workouts he used to sit me down at his post in front of my other uncles Blues club and set up a board for us to play before the doors opened for the night. Every match ended the same way, with him standing up from the board and extending his hand to shake mine, that was his customary way to end every match when he won. He didn't even bother to say checkmate, he allowed you to look and claim your own defeat. His silence and extended hand were all the proclamation he ever needed. I watched him claim many victims day in and day out in front of that Blues club.
I may have only seen him lose once and that was never to me. Sad to say that I was never able to unlock the code to beating him, as he passed away a few years ago from an abrupt heart attack before I ever got the chance. He taught me so many lessons while playing, not just lessons on how to play the game itself but lessons about life through the game. Lessons such as observing and watching situations unfold, thinking ahead. Lessons such as learning someone else’s tendencies and how to not be distracted, not be greedy, when a sacrifice is worth it and when it’s simply a pyrrhic victory.
I learned how every piece, just like every person is important and can win it all for you. And he showed me that we often display who were are through the way we play. If we are aggressive or adventurous, your play will depict exactly that. I learned that if you are very defensive and cautious your style of play will reflect those exact same traits. And if you are someone who has a routine and rarely deviates from it, your style of play will also reflect the exact same mode of thinking. My uncle taught me that chess will teach you about yourself and about life from the aspect that to be truly great, you have to be flexible and willing to adapt to any situation.
You have to be able to think because adhering to any one style, much like how we do things in life, can only take you so far. That there has to be a time when you outgrow a certain way of playing, thinking, and living, to evolve and be able to generate another form to become successful in the next stage of life much like facing different opponents. Even today I believe a bit of him has rubbed off on me through the way I play. From the way I like to sit and listen to Blues or Jazz when I play, to the way I use chess as a way to teach, learn more about myself, contemplate deep issues, and finally to the way that I stand confidently and extend you my right hand.