Saturday, July 18, 2009

The teacher

He was a very gracious winner. "Don't be upset", he told Joanne, "this was your first game and I have played hundreds of times". Her teacher, and vanquisher in the chess battle that had just concluded, was 6 years old. It was way past his bedtime.

We were meeting friends for dinner at a local restaurant in the Berkshires. They were in the area for camp visiting day with their daughter, and had brought their young son along for the weekend adventure.

As we sat down at our table, he suddenly began rattling off multiplication answers of some difficulty. I tried to stump him, to no avail. He was bright, well spoken, and unintentionally funny as only little children can be.

He was also aware that there were chess tables in the lobby. Towards the end of the meal, he sent out the challenge to all at the table. Joanne accepted. She did not know a rook from a pawn, a king from a queen. That would soon change.

Our young friend was a willing mentor, explaining what the pieces were and how they moved. In little time, he taught Joanne the basic concepts. His words were clear and concise.

He was a patient player and, for the most part, did not have the anticipated meltdown when one of his prized possessions was bumped off the board. Slowly, but surely, he gained the advantage, and then, after at least a half hour, it was over

As we waved our goodbyes, the educator had one last thought of encouragement and advice for his new student. "Practice makes perfect".

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