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Being beaten by a Nine Year Old at Chess.

December 29, 2015


So it wasn’t a fluke.

The boy beat me some months ago.  And yesterday, he beat me again. He’s been playing his friends at school and has been clearly improving.  He made fewer mistakes than me – but he made them because he’s seeing more moves ahead than me.

Of course, any half-decent Dad ought to feel happy for the lad.  To be beaten by one’s offspring ought to inspire a kind of pride.  Or so you’d think.

The fact is – by losing to him, I almost feel like I’m letting him down.  I only beat my own Dad once and, since he died four years ago, there’s no chance of me beating him again and declaring that everyone gets to beat their Dad twice.   I worry now that my inept chess playing has deprived the boy of the special excitement and triumph of maybe perhaps one day beating the old man.  So it’s not that I can’t take losing (honest) – it’s that I’ve devalued the boy’s sense of the specialness of winning.

This particular expression of paterfamilial authority has now gone, never to return.  Terrifyingly, there’s only one path left to me.

I’m going to have to try to set him some kind of moral example.

I’m going to have to live my life on broadly decent principles so that I can become the kind of human being I won’t be frightened of him emulating.

Dads of toddlers.  Dads to be.  Those who intend one day to become dads – hearken unto me and heed my warning.  Take chess lessons now.  Join chess clubs.  Actually read those impenetrable looking diagrammatic chess books.  If you want to be “Chess Dad” – your time is short – and the alternative – “Decent Dad” is an infinitely daunting prospect.

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