My father taught me how to play chess when I was about seven. I never was good at it and didn’t particularly enjoy it, but I played because it gave me an opportunity to be with my father and do something with him that he loved to do. My brother played with my father, too, but unlike me, my brother actually enjoyed it and became an excellent player. I remember the first time my brother won a game with my father. My father laughed good-naturedly, proud that his son had progressed in the game. I never won a game with my father. Never. I never won a game with my brother, either, for that matter. My husband and sons also play. They have beaten me every time. In fact, I don’t think I have ever won a game of chess until recently.
I have not played a game of chess for decades. I simply don’t have the patience or the ability to see beyond the next move. My father had a book, How to Think Ahead in Chess, that I tried to read, but not only did I find it boring, I could never learn how to maneuver my opponent into a position where I could take him. I spent every game on the run, and when my horses…er, knights…were taken, I was so dejected, I gave up. I really liked those cute little guys. I clearly don’t have the mind for chess.
Now, however, my doctor said it is very important for me to find ways to stimulate my mind because he finds older patients who don’t use their minds are prone to dementia. Chess is an excellent way to stimulate one’s mind. How fortunate, then, that a close friend of mine recently told me how much she would like to initiate a weekly game of chess with me. We have played twice already, and I have beaten her twice. Maybe I don’t stink after all. I think I’ve just always played with excellent players, and I’ve finally found someone who is on my level. I may even come to enjoy this game after all these years.
This week’s game was particularly satisfying. I took my time, studying the board carefully, and maneuvered my opponent into a position where she was trapped at every turn. When I took her horse…er, knight…I relished the stunned look of surprise and dismay on her face. Ha! No mercy! Next week we’re going to play with the bishops instead of just the pawns and knights. You have to teach a seven-year-old slowly. You can’t rush with such a difficult game. Besides, I would like to win a few more games before she turns eight and starts beating me.