Chess; a board game for two players each beginning with sixteen pieces of six kinds (king, queen, two bishops, two knights, two rooks and eight pawns) on a checkerboard having 64 squares of two alternating colors where the moves are made according to individual rules, with the objective of checkmating the opposing king.  When I put it that way, it sounds sophisticated and very boring.
 
 As a classical ballet artist, I have a taste for calculated risk; every mistake on stage has consequences that are immediate, evident, embarrassing and mayhap painful.  I often have to think with my substance and turn what appears to be dangerous to the audience into a matter of skill, knowledge, intelligence and coördination.  During the performance for a brief period, I am directly responsible for my actions.  And the thunderous applause that proceeds makes all of that risk worthwhile.  It is similar to playing chess with your entire body.

 By the age of eleven, I was already totally captivated by the beauty of chess.  In my unhappiness over the events of the materialistic world, I was able to immerse myself into this escape from reality, disconnecting from external affairs.  It was like using a drug.  Every wooden piece had its own niches shaping thoughts, behind their visual design on the checkerboard, expressed their elegance abstractly like poetry.

 At the beginning I was a sore loser.  I tried to see the checker board as the world.  The pieces were the phenomena of the universe, and the rules of the game were the laws of Nature.  All I knew about my opponent was that he had to be fair, just and patient.  But I also quickly learned that I could never overlook a mistake, or make the smallest allowance for ignorance.  It took me several years to become a humble winner.

 Benjamin Franklin said:  “Chess teaches foresight by having to plan ahead; vigilance by having to keep watch over the whole chessboard; caution by having to restrain ourselves from making hasty moves and finally, we learn from chess the greatest maxim in life, that even when everything seems to be going badly for us we should not lose heart, but always hope for a change for the better, and steadfastly continue searching for the solutions to our problems.”

 I do not think chess is exclusively for ingenious people, and I believe that anyone who plays chess will surely become smarter.  In chess as in life, forethought wins.  So why can I not play it anymore?  Perhaps I am waiting for that player, future winner of a game startling me cold, who would charm me warm again and then some, by the way of the pattern of her thought on the stage.  Or ultimately I have discovered that life is not only about winning … it is rather a stalemate.

  

Wisdom and Combat.

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