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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Season(s) of a year or life (01/13/11)

TITLE: Check Mate of Life
By Dianne Janak


1955… The Easter Sunday night my dad started teaching me how to play chess, he said he wanted me to” learn about life.” As an eight-year-old girl , knowing my dad wanted a son, I listened to appease him. He was often too busy to take me places, as “he had to play golf for business purposes.” When that happened I cried, so I decided to like playing chess. However, I wondered silently what jumping my knight over his bishop had to do with living my life.

1957… That summer in Texas before air conditioning , I looked forward to our chess games at night under the stars. The long hot evenings, on our back patio, we’d play chess with the lightening bugs buzzing around us as dad drank his beer, smoked his Camels and beat me no matter how hard I tried to win. It was still time with Dad. “Winning wasn’t everything” he’d taught me.

1959… It was Christmas and I was hoping Dad would play a game with me while I was home from school. But something had changed in him. His game was weaker and I guessed he was feeling sorry for me and let me win now and then. But then he’d cuss and tell me he wished he’d never taught me how to play. I thought he’d told me it was good for me to learn how to lose.

He hid liquor bottles in brown paper bags a lot and when he had a coke would go into the bathroom with it. I wondered if I beat him because I was getting smart enough to know he was trying to hide that bottle of gin from mom.

1961… I was fourteen and told Dad I didn’t want to play chess with him anymore. His face turned red as he threw down the chess board with the pieces scattering ever which way. I hated the game if it was about life. The life he was leading wasn’t worth living in my opinion and I wanted no part of his advice giving anymore. He’d even passed out during the TCU football game while we were in the stadium. I wanted to pretend I didn’t know him.

1969… I was a senior at the university in Austin. My new boyfriend asked me if I knew how to play chess and I told him “no, I wasn’t interested”. I know it was a lie, but the” not interested” part was the truth. We got married a few years later, and I buried all those chess memories. There was too much pain clinging to them.

1989… Where did time go? While walking and talking to my Jesus, my new King, as I grieved my dad’s death, I was praying He would show me something about him that was worthy of passing on to the next generation. His liver was cooked from the abuse of alcohol, but I knew behind that addiction there were some memories worth cherishing. Asking God to unmask them, I yearned to see him as God did.

2011 … I have grandkids now and a friend of mine has been playing chess with me. Remembering some counsel about life from my dad, that actually lined up to the counsel from my Heavenly Father, I realized what a great tool it would be to teach them about life.

“Kids, chess is like the game of life. You need to always to protect your king in chess just like we need to protect our walk with God, our heavenly King.

The pawn should never be out there alone. He moves with the other pawns to have power and strength. Just like us as believers. God never intended us to walk our walk with Him alone or we are easy prey to the enemy.

You can’t blame your errors in chess on your opponent. It was your choice to move the piece you moved and there are consequences to our choices in life you know.

When you make an error you have to learn to recover quickly. It will kill your game if you beat yourself up. Remember your King is still and always will be on your side.

Every piece moves differently. Just like you and your siblings and friends. God created us to move together for a common purpose. Just like the body of Christ.

Don’t ever underestimate the value of a good chess game. That’s what my dad taught me.”

A good memory.

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This article has been read 577 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Carol Penhorwood 01/20/11
What awesome lessons to be learned from the game of chess! I had no idea.
Sharon Brooks01/21/11
Wonderful. I play chess with my son all the time. I will see things differently next game. Any thoughts about the purpose of the "Queen". Thanks again for a thought provoking read.
Beth LaBuff 01/23/11
Oh wow! I was fascinated as each memory was played out in my reading. The emotions were real. Then I absolutely LOVE your lessons from the dad… and how she discovered them, and was able to pass them on to her grandkids.. And she was able to call them "A good memory!" Great work here!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 01/24/11
Chess really does teach about life. I loved how you summed it all up in the end. This is a great message.
Lynda Schultz 01/26/11
Even the worst experiences have value in them. Good writing and a good message.
Ann Wilds05/22/11
I loved your analogies of how chess relates to the life of believers. They were very insightful and creative.

Jan Ackerson 08/24/11
Dianne, I'm going to feature this thoughtful piece on the Front Page Showcase for the week of Sept. 23. Look for it on the FaithWriters home page--and congratulations!
Beth LaBuff 09/12/11
Reading this again, Dianne, made me tear up. It's poignant, yet full of promise. I love this.
Helen Murray09/18/11
Fantastic take on chess. WOW! Fantastic take on forgiveness.