Saturday, September 15th, 2012
Back in April, I chose to become involved in a “Big Brother” type of program called Men Of Valor; a program to mentor children whose fathers are incarcerated.
I was matched with a 15 year-old boy who was known for keeping to himself and playing “shoot-’em-up” video games online.
For those first couple of one-on-one meetings I had with him, I really didn’t know what to do.
But then he told me he was considering becoming a sniper in the military.
Coincidentally, I had just finished a book called MicroTrends, which had a chapter called “Aspiring Snipers,” explaining how the the popularity of shooter games like Halo and Call of Duty have spiked a trend in high school boys surveyed, saying that they are interested in becoming US military snipers when they graduate high school.
I racked my brain on how I could use his interest in shooter games and his inspiration to become a US military sniper as ways for us two to get to know each other better.
Then I thought back to a classic game in which I have been looking for a good partner for years: Chess!
In chess, you can use pieces like the queen, the bishop, and the rook to “snipe” the other player from the other side of the board.
Essentially, those pieces are best used after you have distracted your opponent with a threat on one side of the chess board, then in the likeness of a sniper, you slide in from the other side and take out one of the player’s pieces.
I began thinking, “Aspiring snipers should play chess.” I’m now convinced that chess is indeed the most archaic version of today’s online shooter games.
So every other Thursday, I pick him up to take him out for a Frappuccino at Starbucks and we play our 3 chess matches.
It took him about 7 or 8 chess matches to finally beat me for the first time. Like I told him, I wasn’t going to let him win nor would I go easy on him at all.
But as of our last meeting a few days ago, it was the first time in 3 matches that I finally beat him again.
That’s right. He’s a well-matched chess partner for me now.
As of our last meeting, he mentioned to me that he may be interested in going to college to be a History Major, or maybe even an English Major like I was.
But whether he ends up fighting for our country in the military, or becoming a historian or a teacher, I’m here to support him; and I say, it all began with a classic game of chess.
I now invite you to read my instant sequel to this article, 5 Reasons To Play Chess With Your Child.
Top image: Two knights face to face on chessboard, via Shutterstock.
Bottom image: Chess coffee, via Shutterstock.