| 2019 | 04 | 03 | story time |

this was inspired by a conversation today. about choices. about making them. or about avoiding them.
but mainly about crossroads.

I used to play chess at school.

I was in chess club actually, and devoted three evenings a week to the game.

I was fairly good at it, and would've been excellent in competitions were it not for the fact that at the time, other things called to me. like mud, and grass.

So I'd make stupid mistakes and ultimately, I'd lose.

My Lacey, my chess-teacher, would stand over the table and tut.

'Sophie, we don't just learn to play chess to play chess.'

stumbling blocks
to begin, we would play warm up games with people of our ability. it was fun. it would be speed chess, or some other form of the game to get us thinking.

once we'd done that, he would move on to the actual point of the lesson, often singling one of us out and forcing different situations upon us.

it didn't take long for me to be put in the hot seat.

he'd put together a very simple scenario, where the path of the opponent was unclear. you had the choice of effectively two pieces to move, and very few squares to move them to.

the aim was to force you to decide with very little time which to move and where. pressure. time limit and an unfamiliar sequence made me freeze. faced with two choices, I couldn't even make one.

I lost by the clock.

lesson 1: it is better to make a worse decision, than make none. 

look after the little things
He couldn't tear me away from my distractable mind. the focus i needed wasn't the focus I had, and as with life now, i'd get caught in the scrap, not the game or as he'd yell - 'four squares don't a win make'.

I remember sighing, I'd taken the knight and sacrificed everything across the whole board.

It took a year before I understood what he was saying. It took a year before I could truly allow a piece to be sacrificed for the bigger picture.

i suppose, that's what he meant about life. sometimes, it looks like you're down. when in reality things are on the up.

it's important to keep an eye on the side of the board, there are two lessons there.

you have to keep an eye on both the ball and the field whilst looking after your weakest players.

make decisions with conviction
that was another phrase completely lost on a room of 8-10 year olds. but I get it. when you play chess, you make your most important decisions under pressure. i suppose instinctively, you do have the ability to subconsciously weigh up the pros and cons of a lot of things - hence trusting your gut. mr lacey was encouraging us to listen to that and act without hesitation and commitment.

he was also adamant you played your own game. you could observe and discuss others, but you couldn't intervene.

he was teaching the ultimate life lessons through a game of 32 pieces.

I wish i could thank that man.