What Chess Means to Me

Some of my earliest memories as a child were watching my stepfather play chess by the fireside with my mom.  Dad, being the kind hearted gentleman he was, always allowed my mother to win in convincing fashion.  As time went on, and my father taught me to play, I started noticing this and began to point it out to my mother. After several acrimonious looks from my father however, I instituted a "no talk" philosophy upon myself.

I grew up in an environment where life was as simple as waking up, farming, eating, and sleeping.  I had no friends growing up, as I was home schooled. But in the parts I'm from (Prince Edward Island) that is not unusual.  I began playing chess shortly after my 14th birthday, when my father bought me my very own chess set. As you can imagine, this was hardly the surrogate for the hound dog I always wanted.  But as he began to explain to me, chess wasn't just merely a game - it was art form.

Anyone can play chess. It is as simple as progressing 16 pieces around 64 squares while endeavoring the task of destroying a blight, which is your opponents King.  But to my father (and now to me) it is much more than that.  

Chess is an outward expression of an inward desire; moreover, each of our inward desires is different. To some, we play chess for a feeling of superiority over others. Yet some play for the inner feeling of self-worth. But to me, I play chess for the feeling of being a tactician. Nothing gets me more in that ambience of strategy - the ultimate game of cat and mouse.  Almost at once after leaning how the pieces relocated, I instantly learned that it takes more than just moving a piece to another location.

I can remember some of the earliest games with my father.  I moved apiece forward and WHAM - his bishop would come flying across the board to take my knight (this, I believe is where my fear of bishops commenced).  After weeks of getting my tail end handed to me, my father began teaching me the point of strategy, and its utter seriousness in Chess. Without it, you’re a mere solider on a battlefield without its commander, its overseer.  There is significance in the way you open, the timing of your castling, and your endgame.  There is an importance in the way you hold yourself in a match.

This is where that inner desire came about; I loved the notion of strategizing and corralling my forces.  There is much of an art form that takes hold when you start to really think about the correlations and movements of pieces around a seeming less transparent board.  But chess means more to me than that. Chess is now life. Chess is now happiness. Chess is that hound dog I never got. Chess is, in essences, the last Earthly memory of my late stepfather. 


- Canadian Pine


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