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Chess: "Check" It Out / Life Lessons For Grandson & Grandpa From Pierre - nice article

posted Mar 3, 2020, 3:12 PM by Louisiana Chess   [ updated Mar 7, 2020, 8:29 AM ]

Submitted by:  Keith John Paul Horcasitas, LCSW, MHA, 1133 Knollhaven Drive, BRLA 70810,, April 24, 2019

Today I submitted this to the Advocate's “Human Condition” column, but feel free to share this if you want to.

Chess: "Check" It Out / Life Lessons For Grandson & Grandpa From Pierre

Pierre was a renaissance type of premed friend I knew back in the 1970s in New Orleans. We would see each other at the local coffee clubs like the Penny Post (now The Neutral Ground) on Danneel Street that we frequented back then. Besides possessing a lot of book knowledge that he could readily convey in simple terms, he was very artsy -- into music, poetry readings, and he could easily cite famous painters or sculptors and their works of art.

At times, board championship games were held at these coffee houses - including Scrabble, Backgammon and Chess. On some special occasions, a master chess champion would play multiple games at once - like we used to see Bobby Fisher and others perform. Pierre was a very accomplished chess player who probably had belonged to the Paul Morphy club that was in New Orleans.

I have always been fascinated by the game of Chess. It took quite a while for my brother to get me to grasp the inner workings of strategy employed in the game. My friends and I would try to sharpen our skills usually on weekends at the coffee houses as we listened to good old fashioned folk music.

Some of my buddies really excelled in the game and eventually, as we were in our later teen years, got to play against the computer based games that had come out, as well as the 3 dimensional types of boards that were developed.

Lately, it has been so cool to see that our 11 y/o grandson, John, has taken a liking to playing chess. Most kids John's age are mainly into electronic devices, which John certainly enjoys.

During his recent Easter visit with us, it was so much fun playing many a chess game with my grandson, who won most matches … and we went to play a few times out in the community, including at Barnes & Nobles as well as Coffee Call where we met some mostly elder members of the local Chess Club, whom were so glad to mentor an aspiring new Bobby Fisher!

The Queen was usually a favorite piece for most folks as it was for me - since it had so many maneuvers that could be used. I couldn't stand it when I would inadvertently get mine jumped after I'd thought I'd made a great capture of a Bishop, a Rook or a Knight. The pawn just always seemed to get in the way when I would try to set up an attack on my opponent.

I've heard commercials lately touting that one can increase intelligence per chess. While that may be exaggerating a bit, I can truly note that playing chess can expand your critical thinking skills. Chess does foster the use of prudence in decision making after one considers the many possibilities/strategies for winning in the game. These skills appear to transfer to many other aspects of our lives.

Just getting someone into "Check" was such a thrill - to feel like you were about to win a match! Still it was very common for my opponents to have the strategy to pull me into that "Check" and then for them to be able to trounce me. Very few of my games ended in "Stalemate" or a drawn contest, wherein no one could win.

Well one Saturday night at a coffee house, Pierre was involved in a multiple game play - the likes of which I was always a spectator. He already had 11 contests going on but couldn't resist the chance to make it "cheaper by the dozen" when I asked if I could join in. Usually, he would win all of the matches.

So as we were playing, I was making some progress but lost some dear pieces including my Queen, a Bishop and a Rook, as well as many Pawns. I couldn't believe how Pierre would quickly go from one match to the next without much deliberation and decimate all of us.

Little was I prepared for my next move as I thought I was preparing to set up a "Check" on Pierre in the back right quadrant on his side. At the time, Pierre was threatening me sorely on the back left quadrant of my side, so I was getting ready for what appeared to be his final assault. In desperation, I moved a lowly Pawn up - taking a Bishop from Pierre to buy time with what I thought was just "Check" against him.

Pierre then came back to our game and congratulated me on the decisive move by a Pawn that actually produced Checkmate! I hadn't realized that the pawn was being protected by my other Bishop, and Pierre's King had no other place to retreat!

That is my only claim to fame with playing chess. Thanks to the game of Chess and Pierre for expanding my ability to think and to take on other insurmountable challenges in my life that have occurred. While Chess does not have as much current following as electronic games like Wii, etc., it will always be a great playful tool for learning on all levels of life.

And like John our grandson and I have learned, Chess can really bring people together for fun face-to-face competition and companionship that is so needed in life as a essential element to healthy communication and outreach.

Keith John Paul Horcasitas, LCSW, MHA, 1133 Knollhaven Drive, BRLA 70810,, April 24, 2019.

Now living and playing in Kansas, it is always great to see kids growing in chess!

"John played chess against some very good older chess players and John won every game but a tie with a master chess player... "

Baton Rouge Chess Club, et al:

My grandson, John, and I look forward to going to Coffee Call tonight to join some other local Baton Rouge "Purple & Gold" Chess enthusiasts in playing this wonderful game!