The Master and
A few days ago, my 12-year old grandson, Dylan, beat
me for the first time in chess.
I began teaching Dylan how to play chess when he
was four years old, just as I had done with his own
mother years ago when she was a little girl. We started
with each piece, studying its movements, learning its
limitations, and discussing its contribution to achieving
checkmate. Then we explored strategies and tactics, beginning
with simple concepts and getting more complex
as he grew older.
Over the years, we examined classic offenses and
defenses. I switched sides many times mid-game so he
could see what he did or didn’t do and the opportunities
still left on both sides for more development and a
possible win. One Christmas, we simulated the 100 best
games of Bobby Fischer, who many consider the best
chess player ever, and determined that his opponents
sometimes conceded too quickly. Mixing it up in this
way saved Dylan from getting discouraged when he lost.
I never let him win. It wouldn’t have been honest or
real. He needed to experience getting beaten so that he
could feel pride in his genuine accomplishment when he
finally won. And sure enough, the inevitable happened,
as it was bound to happen. Dylan won.
In his moment of victory, he simply turned to me and
said, “Paddy, you taught me well.” Of all the lessons the
game of chess or I, as his teacher, could impart, this one
was the greatest acquired. Amidst the strategies and
methods, Dylan had learned graciousness, which was
manifested through the recognition he gave to me.
None of us are inherently born skilled, rather we are
all shaped and molded by those around us, those who
dedicate their time to being
a positive influence
in our development. I
would not have realized
the power of this without
Dylan. So, Dylan,
laddy, I say thank you.
Patrick J. Wood