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.