Sunday, March 29, 2015

On teaching chess to Graham

I wrote about this a month ago, but it happened again yesterday.  There we were playing, in the waning light of an early spring afternoon, and I discovered that I had accidentally put my queen in a place where she was actually trapped by Graham's pawns.  All he had to do was move one pawn and there was nothing I could do, I'd have to trade my queen for a bishop.  Not a good trade.

And I felt actual shame and fear:  oh my God, I thought, my queen, how could I do this.  So I resorted to subterfuge, I moved some things around on other places of the board and distracted Graham so he didn't realize the opportunity that he had.  And I got out of it.

Again, in retrospect, I could have shown him how much power and opportunity he had, but the drive to win was too strong.

I shared about this in an AA meeting this morning, and several people identified, including a grandmother who had recently been playing chess with her granddaughter and had a similar thing go on, she was overcome by the lust for battle and dominance.  The very nice male-to-female trans-person who sits in the corner came over to me and said that she plays and coaches some chess and that actually I should not let Graham win, that he would know and it is demeaning to him.  I was glad to have that vote of confidence.

But the shocking thing is, of course, the actual fear I felt at putting my queen in a stupid situation. It is not, in essence, dissimilar to the hypertrophied level of commitment that drove me to foil a goal-scoring opportunity in a soccer game last September -- and thereby sprain my hand pretty badly.  I'm still not 100% healed.

The question is:  why do I care?  and should I?

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