Letter from the Publisher: The Master and the Student
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