A Dying Game

In sixth grade, my class was taught a unit not mandated in any curriculum you will find. In fact, the unit centered on a game. In my last year of elementary school, I was taught chess.

My sixth grade teacher, Mr. Jared Hoadley, taught our whole class how to play the strategic game of chess. I can still see him sitting up front in class holding different pieces and telling us what they could do on the board. Before long we knew that the horse piece was called a “knight” and that your queen was the most powerful piece in the game. Soon, we were all playing matches against each other. Mr. Hoadley was making nerds of us all.

Well, not really. There is a perception that chess is played by antisocial brainiacs but the reality is that the game is played by all types of people across numerous countries. What is true, however, is that the overall number of people playing and learning chess is declining. But honestly, is it really a big surprise? With electronics and the culture we live in today, folks don’t necessarily want to learn a complex game and then sit down and devote an hour to playing it.

Never mind the fact that chess can be played on any iPhone or computer, the game itself (perception and complexities included) just seems to turn people off these days. Heck, the game seemed to turn most people off before I even started playing it around 17 years ago.

So why even play it? Come on Brent, just because you are getting all nostalgic about your elementary school days does not mean we should start playing an outdated game. I understand what you are saying, but…

Today I talked to someone who was on fire for the game of chess. He had just returned from a major tournament and is climbing his way up to the Chess Master level. Even though I am as amateur as they come with regards to chess, I was still able to chat with him about the game. It made me miss it.

We should play chess because it is a classic, thinking-person’s game. It is based on strategy. Every war and every sports metaphor is relatable in chess. If you like competition, if you like the idea of matching wits against someone, if you like locking yourself down for a battle of intellect then chess is your game. Patience and aggression are both key. If nothing else, at least learn how to play.

Do you play chess? If you do, I would like to know. Also, if you have ever taught someone to play it before I would like to know. Until then, check mate. Don’t Blink.