A Grandmaster in chess is the highest achieavable title.
Becoming a master of the game of chess is no easy task. It
requires years of perseverance and determination to accomplish. While most
Americans feel like they know how to play the game, only a handful truly
understands the complexities of the board. A chess board consists of 64
squares, half of which are black, and half of which are white. The board can be
dissected into multiple locations of importance. Controlling the center, the
King-side or the Queen-side, or even the white colored squares can tip the
balance of the board into one’s favor. And understanding how each individual
piece plays a role in the game can change tide of a battle.
I’ve spent many years playing the game of chess. I first
learned at the age of five, when my father bought me a chess set. Of course at
these early stages I struggled to out maneuver my father who had many years experience.
But he continued to teach me. First how to move the pieces, a rook moves
straight, up and down, left or right. A
bishop moves diagonally, always staying on the same color. A knight is a bit
trickier, moving in “L” shapes. A knight moves straight two squares and then
hops one square to the left or right. Alternatively it can move straight one
square, and then hop two to the left or right. The knight also can jump over
pieces. The pawn can move one square forward at all times, unless there is a
piece in front of it. It can also move two squares forward if it is the first
time it has moved that game. The pawn is the only piece that attacks
differently than it moves. While pawns move straight, they can capture pieces diagonally
one square away. Kings can move one square in any direction, while queens can
move as many squares in one direction as they can reach.
After I learned how to move the pieces, I had to understand
WHERE to move the pieces to gain advantage.] I learned how to control the center
of the board, with supporting pieces laying the groundwork. Controlling the
center allows you to gain space, and cramp your opponent into a box. I learned
how to castle, a unique maneuver that allows your king and a rook to move simultaneously.
The king moves two squares towards the rook, and the rook hops over to the
other side. The castling maneuver can only be done if neither piece has moved
yet, and cannot be done if the king is in check, moving through a square under
attack, and cannot move into check. Castling protects the king, and also helps
develop pieces on the board. Protecting the king at all costs while capturing
the opponent’s in the objective of the game, something even a five-year-old can
understand and yet something that is difficult to do even as a Grandmaster
depending on their opponent.
I’ve read about 100 books on how to play better chess in all
aspects of the game. I’ve traveled across the country to compete in national tournaments.
I’ve studied the game with masters, and have played against the best. It took
years to understand the fundamentals, even longer to understand the
complexities. But I can now call myself an expert in the game of chess. For
about a decade I’ve taught chess lessons to others. But even now I am no master
of the game. While I may be in the top 10,000 chess players in America, I have
yet to achieve the title of Grandmaster. So while my success is a great
achievement, I am still persevering to become better. But someday I will
accomplish this dream, for I am determined. While I understand the importance
of “en passant” (A chess term that
is French for in-passing) I will have to spend many more years to learn how to
beat the ten Grand Masters required to even begin qualifying for that title.