*This article was written by our friend Kerren Barker. She’s very nice.
Recently, I‚Äôve begun playing chess again. I say again, for it has been many a year since I set my mind to the game. Though I learned to play as a child and did so for a while, I quickly realized that I never beat the people I played- namely my dad and older brother. Their minds quickly noted weaknesses and room for tactical error. As a child, I was vengeful and would take pieces simply to spite them. This strategy never worked for me though as they would use my irrationality against me. So, I gave up the game.
Now, many years later I‚Äôve reasoned with myself that I am older, wiser and more tactical. I can use my strategery to make traps and take pieces. I can control the spiteful part of me that wishes to knock all the pieces over in a fit of rage at losing. I‚Äôve evolved, I say. So, I began to play again.
My re-entry into the world of chess began at the bequest of my ten year old nephew who has recently become enamored with the game. My previously shaken chess confidence was strengthened by my ability to beat my nephew and my lust for conquering became enlivened within me. My next opponent was my husband. I won the match and felt ever so smart, for chess is a game associated with intelligence if not tactical ability. We played again. He won. This loss however, did not shake my confidence. I felt we were evenly matched. Ah, a challenge- I thought to myself. This is good. I can handle being on equal footing with someone.
We played again. I won. We played again. He won. Then, he won. He won again. My interest in the game began to wane as I began to associate the board and pieces with imminent defeat. This game of intelligence and strategery was only proving how little of the two I had developed in the 16 years since I had last played. Hence, as all intelligent and self controlled adults do, I pouted at the loss of our most recent match. Impetuously, I knocked over my king in the universal sign of consolation and defeat.
This game which is hundreds of years old and has been the lifelong object of countless people has reverted me- an independent and normally rational person- to the age of 7.
So the question remains. What to do about chess? Well, I have two options before me. I can run from my stumbling block- and admit to my tactical inferiority thereby resulting in a humbling of spirit. Or I can conquer the stumbling block that is causing this reversion and learn to become a chess master. This will of course create a new vice- pride. But then, we all have to have some kind of imperfection and really, who wouldn‚Äôt rather be a prideful chess genius as opposed to a humble strategic loser?
I think that choice is clear to us all.