Chess: The Game of War
Uploaded by Gotskillz on Jul 04, 2004
They say that chess is the game of gentlemen. For me—and for most other 12-year-olds—it was a game of nerds. My father, however, loved the game and he wanted me to love it, too. After retiring from the Navy, he moved our family to my mom’s hometown of Athens, Greece. There, in the downtown area, almost literally under the shadow of the Acropolis, a public square was the meeting place for amateur chess players on Friday nights. It didn’t take long before my father discovered this and dragged me along to this affair every week.
Only one chessboard was used for the tournament, but this wasn’t your usual chessboard. The squares of the board were large enough for two people to stand in comfortably. The pawns were about four feet tall, and the king was approximately five-seven. The pieces were made of wood, light enough to move but not without some effort. Spectators could sit on four rows of seats, surrounding the board on its three sides, like an amphitheater. The open fourth side faced the plaza, where curious evening strollers would stop by to catch the action.
The board was open to the public, but on Fridays it was almost strictly a father-son affair. At around six o’clock, the first regulars would show up. The fathers would sit, chatting away the time, while the children played each other. Summer days can get very hot in Athens, and it usually doesn’t cool off until 9 o’clock. At that time, the strong amateurs and even some professionals showed up and the games went on well past midnight.
From six to nine, though, the board belonged to the sons. My father made sure we got there in time for me to squeeze in a game or two. Kids were always there, fooling around on the chessboard. Even if they didn’t know how to play, just moving those enormous pieces of wood around was fun enough. My father, however, taught me to take chess seriously and accept only serious challenges. I always got stuck playing against an archetypal nerd with taped glasses, pocket-protector and everything, when I really wanted to use the pieces in sword-fights, like the other kids were doing.
Still, my interest in chess intensified since the first day I played on the board. Pretty soon I was able to compete with Athens’ finest young chess players. We all felt a sense of pride and...