Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Life's like a ....


People say life's like alot of things, b.u.t. for the purpose of this post on this beautiful day of Equality, I'll use the adage "Life's like a Chess Game". Now if we actually go in and break that statement down, we hit some deep & real subjects.

As a youth, the only exposure I had to chess was when I went over my friends' house & saw the chess board sitting on the living room table (R.I.P. Coach K). At that point, it appeared to be the grown-up version of chess, so I left it at that. In middle school, my school had one of the better chess teams in the city, so we would always have programs in the auditorium celebrating their accomplishments (although due to the collective ignorance of the student body, it was never put on par with basketball or the "real" sports). I didnt personally embrace chess until my sophmore year in college, & even then it was begrudgingly, due to my perspective that chess wasn't a indicator of intelligence any more than spades or 21 blackjack being that it could be played out of a book. If I won, I would play it down; If I lost, I would play it down.

Then came Howard's Homecoming of 1997. I gained insight on a number of new issues that night (The NY-DC beef, Club Politics, How not to wear a trench coat, etc..)b.u.t. the true jewel that I earned that chilly October night was the science of chess. Here it goes:

It's 1 am, & the Gods & I are walking on U street towards Ben's Chili Bowl. A brother dressed in a fatigue jacket & a turban looks at us & says "Peace! Who over here plays chess?" One of the better chess players among us replies in the affirmative. My man (in the turban) pulls a plastic board out of his pocket & challenges the God to a match on top of a trash can (using makeshift pieces, no less). They go on to play for a 1/2 hour, back & forth. Keeping in line with his opening admonition, old head in the turban plays very agressive, bordering on reckless; always focusing on his own strengths. Conversely, The God's style was more understated; responding to the moves that were made vs. playing his own hand. In the interest of space, I'll fast forward you to the end; The brother in the FT saying "I'll get you next time".

Besides that story being off the hook, See where I'm going? Both of their chess styles reflected their personalities, & over the 10 years since, I've seen that play out over & over again. People who are aggresive on the board tend to be aggressive in the real world; the same with people who are passive. Here is a small list of the the things that chess has taught me:

- Strategically, no one thing is the end all be all; some chess playes are so scared to lose their queen, it's ridiculous!

- Even the smallest person has potential for growth; A pawn can become a queen if it makes enough forward movement

- Everything isn't what it seems to be; Just because a move looks good, doesn't mean it is

- Plan in advance; The best chess players plan moves in advance. Too often, people plan based upon their present conditions vs. how conditions will be in the future.

- Life is time-sensitive; Windows of opportunity are vital to success & one can't assume that the window will be open forever.

There's a great article about Black chess players that can be found at the websites listed below. In closing, please give youth around you the gift of rational thinking & disclipline, for it's the gift that recreates itself!

Sites to check out:

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