Chess Returns

Over the last few years, I have collected quite many family heirlooms. As the older generation downsizes and begins to whittle away its belongings, I have accepted the precious things that hold sentimental value.  (see post ). One such piece is a marble chess board and a well-worn  set of wooden pieces. Both have seen many years of use over several generations of my husband’s family.

When I redecorated my living room last fall to accomodate some newly-acquired heirlooms, including a grandfather clock, I decided to incorporate a dedicated chess table into the room. (see post ). My handy husband built the base for the marble board and I added two antique caned chairs from my side of the family.

For months the table sat, collecting dust, and I feared it would become a catch-all for loose papers before long.

Fortunately, in the last month, my son has expressed a renewed interest in the game of chess.

Many years ago, his Papa had patiently sat with him, giving him wise advice on game strategies once he moved beyond the basics. Son has memories of playing chess with Papa, or with his Uncle- both of whom who have since passed away. They were so gentle at guiding him, suggesting he rethink a move or making light of a mistake. They didn’t intentionally let him win. Often Son judged how he was improving by how few pieces the winner had left on the board.

This was contrary to the highly competitive matches I have witnessed between Papa and Uncle or between my husband and either of them. Each player took the game seriously and would ponder the possibilities for each move for what seemed an eternity. A rematch was certainly in order every time we visited and it was a matter of pride to win.

I don’t know what has suddenly drawn my son back to chess. Either he remembers how much he once enjoyed it, or he thinks enough time has passed since he last played his Papa that the memories are no longer painful. Either way, I enjoy eavesdropping on my husband and son during their evening matches.

Husband prefers slow, deliberate moves whereas Son has little patience for considering every alternative. I know he disrupts Husband’s thought process by bursting into song while waiting for his turn. It makes me laugh to hear him singing the melody of “Oh Fortuna” when I know Husband is trying to concentrate.

Other than a few pleas for one minute longer, Husband has adapted to the twenty minute chess match. I think the pleasure of playing on his family chess set, passed down to him from his own grandfather, and being able to play his son (something his father enjoyed immensely) makes him feel like he his fulfilling a legacy and passing on a family tradition.

It is wonderful to see the two of them playing a match nearly every evening. It is a chance for them to be competitive in a healthy, productive way. All boys look up to their dads on the road to manhood, and being able to outsmart your dad in a game of chess is a notch on the totem pole.

Someday when Son is settled into his own house and is ready to continue the tradition, this family heirloom will become his. In the meantime, I am thankful that I had the vision to give this table the honor and attention it deserves and that is no longer merely an heirloom collecting dust.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Carol
    May 03, 2012 @ 09:53:13

    That chessboard is beautiful and truly deserves being displayed and enjoyed. You had a great idea there!



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