Proud to Lose · 19 November 2011

I consider myself a fierce competitor, but there are times when I do not mind losing. Actually, I do not ever mind losing when I know I have given it all I had and the other competitor or team was just better that day. Recently though, I was both disappointed and proud when I lost a game of chess.

I really do hate to lose. While I am satisfied that I gave everything I could give, I am dissatisfied that I did not get the outcome I desired. It is like my outlook on life. I am thankful for all of the blessings I have received, but I am also striving to become a better man. Which is why I hate to lose in life and even in something as frivolous as a game of chess.

Now I do not consider myself much of a chess player (which is why I can call it a frivolous game), but I can hold my own against middling players. And I can usually whip up on beginners. I taught the boys how to play when they were young and they will play a game against me when there is nothing else to do. Like me, they love to compete. And like every boy, they are all anxious to be able to say they beat their dad at anything. All of my boys can already brag that they beat me at chess. Even the ten-year old.

When the boys were first learning chess, they did not want to play very often because I had to give them lots of pointers and would not dumb down my game too much. Being such an amateur myself, I could not afford to do so. Besides, when they did beat me, I wanted them to know I was really playing. I did sometimes give them advantages such as playing without my queen or other pieces. As they developed into better players, I could not even do that. It took all my concentration to beat them even when they were young. Especially, when they would help each other. Even though we did not play all the time, all three of my sons beat me at chess before they were ten.

I realized during our most recent game that I always need to bring my best game to play my teenager, Thing 2. I was playing what I thought was a pretty sound game. My opening was a classic reliable one and I had a good defense set up. I was pretty confident because he did not have many pieces engaged on the battle field. I pressed and took piece after piece, but Thing 2 never seemed to worry. Then he made a move that I thought would be his undoing.

Whether you understand chess or not, it is illogical to give up a strong piece for a weak one. Chess players are admonished to think carefully and make sure a clear advantage is gained before making a sacrifice like that. In our game, I said nothing when my son made a sacrifice of his bishop for a pawn. I was still smarting from losing my strongest piece, my queen. Still, I thought I was in pretty good position and was positioning my pieces for a strong attack. Then in a flash, it was over. Checkmate. Thing 2 had not even moved seven of his sixteen pieces. I guess he did not need to use them all since he defeated me with just two. I was devastated that I lost in such a manner. And yet I was proud.

I was proud that my son had beaten me. Soundly. I was proud because, like every father, I want my sons to be better than I. I was proud because I had lost focus only once in the game (when I lost my queen). I was proud because my thirteen year old had beaten me. Again.

I really need to make sure I bring my A-game every time I play my boys in chess. They have all beaten me and I really do hate to lose. But regardless of who gets the better of whom when I play chess with my children, I always win. For when I win, I get to say I beat a player of equal or greater strength than myself. And when I lose, I get to proudly say that my boy won. Do not get me wrong, I still hate to lose. But when I lose, I am proud of the winner. I am proud of my son.

© 2011 Michael T. Miyoshi

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