SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Happy Loss

I laid down the challenge to my kids over the winter -- if you beat me in chess, I'll buy you an IPod Touch.

My son took up the challenge in December and lost endless games against me, many in fewer than five moves as he was just learning that in chess you have to play offense and defense at the same time.

Well, last night was more of the same. He made a few good moves, which he followed with a few gaffes, such as trading a queen for knight or leaving a rook exposed to a bishop. The results of the first three games weren't pretty, as he must have been tired from a long day. He was somewhat careless, to tell you the truth, and he wasn't stringing moves together consistently.

So much so that after the third game, he grew angry. He had a brief outburst, which is rare for him, and then he said, "let's play again."

What happened next showed me something that made me proud as a parent. He didn't come back defeated or upset, but determined. He mustered his concentration, drew upon a lesson a friend taught him about how to set your opponent up for checkmate rather quickly, and induced me into a trap that caused a pretty fast checkmate. All because, of course, I did something that I had counseled him against. I was so focused on my offense (because he was upset, I figured that he would get aggressive and leave himself open) that I neglected my defense. That left myself open to checkmate, which he achieved.

You couldn't imagine the look on his face or his happiness. At first, he had a little trouble believing it himself, but I showed him the checkmate and he jumped up and down, did a shuffle and smiled. Not only did he persist and beat me, he also picked himself up off the mat after three straight defeats to rally and defeat me. He felt a sense of accomplishment, as he should have, and I felt a sense of gratitude that my son knows how to focus, recover, muster his resources and win.

It was a great thing to see, and, yes, a deal's a deal, and we purchased the IPod Touch today.

Now, of course, I have to figure out how to enable him to listen to his music through the earplugs so that the rest of us don't have to hear it. But that's a happy burden, given the accomplishment.

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