Pffft Chess.

I hated chess when I was a child, my dad would sometimes try to get me to play…

I say play even though I definitely know play is the wrong word.

To me playing was outside in the street with my mates, one excruciatingly time-consuming checkmate away.

A logical thinker my dad, he’d take an absolute age to make a single move unlike me…

“Why’d you move that one?” his chastising tone would wait for my tactical explanation.

I was a clever child, not intelligent but observant. Being the youngest of five had its merits, I learned that I only needed to show him I had no aptitude for the game and he’d eventually stop asking me.

I knew “To lose faster so I can play out.” would anger him, so I would just deliver a shrug. Frustrated he eventually sent me off.

He’d sit for hours, days, years even pitting himself against himself. He bought a computer chess for the telly which left a permanent imprint on the screen. You could still see it when the TV was turned off.


Chess I associated with my childhood and although I loved my dad dearly symbolically it represented only the negative. Growing up poor, frustration and bored.

When I was older my dad came to visit me in London… I bought him a fancy chess set from one of the poncy shops, he was delighted.

On his gravestone there is a black embossed king.

I still never took to chess. When he bequeathed me the same chess set, I gave it my brother. Not quite resenting it but perhaps the irony tasted too bitter, to pay the excess luggage. Cheap excuse that one.

I never sat with him again. Now when I see chess, I fondly swallow hard and remember only the good.  My dad’s final sacrifice.


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