Lazens Abroad

Kickin’ it Old School in San Miguel de Allende

Flower

Waiting for Bobby Fischer?

Max has become obsessed with chess. He’ll play as often as he can find a partner. He’s beating everyone at school, has pushed his brilliant father to the brink, and is evenly matched with his brother.

Their inter-sibling rivalry is problematic, frequently devolving into insults and tears.

“Boys,” I explain to them, “the reason you play each other is so you can grow strong, and go out into the world and beat the pants off of people from other families, so that they–not you–will feel impotent and valueless.”

I discovered that there’s a chess club that meets at la biblioteca once a week. I took Max there to find someone he could learn from.

Four men in their fifties and sixties sat around a table in the courtyard engrossed in their matches. The level of play was considerably higher than anything I have ever managed. A fifth arrived, clearly a regular, and I told him mi hijo was looking for a game.

“Does he know how to play?” he asked.

“He’s good,” I said.

They set up the pieces and began.

Max was quiet. I wondered if he would be intimidated playing with an older man. Someone clearly skilled. A stranger.

They moved deliberately with little talking except for an occasional warning from the man. “Are you sure you want to do that?”

Max would nod.

I sat some distance away, browsing a book, giving Max room to have his moment, resisting the urge to tell him to stop wiggling his chair back and forth.

The man steadily ratcheted up the pressure on Max. Except for a single rook deep in his opponent’s territory, Max was on the defensive.

Then Max drove his queen the length of the board so she was facing down the man’s own rook, unprotected. I watched, thinking that Max had decided to commit suicide to escape the pressure of the situation.

The man pointed out the danger. “You know that your queen is your most important piece?”

Max said yes, he knew.

The man took Max’s queen.

Max pushed his own rook into the row the man had just vacated, where the man’s king was pinned in behind a fence of pawns.

“Checkmate,” said Max.

The look on the man’s face was priceless. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the moment when people realize that they like my children. But I’ve never witnessed such an obvious and precipitous elevation of respect.

Go Max.

18 Responses to “Waiting for Bobby Fischer?”

  1. December 22nd, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    Ernie says:

    Hi Mark,
    Thanks for the wonderful narrative and Congratulations to Max! I love reading about the Adventures of the Lazens Abroad. Keep 'em coming. I can't wait for the latest installment in the Auntie Mame episodes.
    Love to all & Happy Holidays from Sanders –
    Guerns aka “Vaca'

  2. January 7th, 2009 at 10:18 am

    hogboy says:

    Glad to see that one of us has an entertaining life these days. Best wishes in 2009.

  3. January 7th, 2009 at 10:37 am

    hogboy says:

    Do you you still carry the card that says (something like): “Guernsey, the only breed that combines quality and quantity …”?

  4. February 8th, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    jmatechak says:

    Great Job MAX——Uncle Jack

  5. November 29th, 2009 at 5:26 am

    peg perego skate stroller says:

    Great little story :)

  6. November 29th, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    Listen RadioBar says:

    Very interesting article. Well Four men in their fifties and sixties sat around a table in the courtyard engrossed in their matches. The level of play was considerably higher than anything I have ever managed. A fifth arrived, clearly a regular, and I told him mi hijo was looking for a game.

  7. December 22nd, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    Dog Breeders says:

    Sometimes there is hidden talent to a young boy. At that time our duty is to help him to come out with his talent. Give him more and challenging opportunity.

  8. January 15th, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Dual Sim Mobile Phones says:

    nice post

  9. January 15th, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Cosmetic dental marketing says:

    The reason you play each other is so you can grow strong, and go out into the world and beat the pants off of people from other families, so that they–not you–will feel impotent and valueless.I can't wait for the latest installment in the Auntie Mame episodes.

  10. January 16th, 2010 at 7:27 am

    Dual Sim Phones says:

    nice post

  11. January 18th, 2010 at 8:17 am

    Spiritual Awakening says:

    I sat some distance away, browsing a book, giving Max room to have his moment, resisting the urge to tell him to stop wiggling his chair back and forth.

  12. January 20th, 2010 at 3:50 am

    Spiritual Awakening says:

    I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the moment when people realize that they like my children. But I’ve never witnessed such an obvious and precipitous elevation of respect.

  13. February 5th, 2010 at 8:13 am

    Salmon Oil for Dogs says:

    Very interesting article. Well Four men in their fifties and sixties sat around a table in the courtyard engrossed in their matches.

  14. August 7th, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    Miami Web Design says:

    The level of play was considerably higher than anything I have ever managed. A fifth arrived, clearly a regular, and I told him mi hijo was looking for a game.

  15. August 10th, 2010 at 3:50 am

    Playground Equipment says:

    The level of play was considerably higher than anything I have ever managed. A fifth arrived, clearly a regular, and I told him mi hijo was looking for a game.

  16. August 11th, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    Swing Sets says:

    Congratulations to Max! I love reading about the Adventures of the Lazens Abroad. Keep 'em coming. I can't wait for the latest installment in the Auntie Mame episodes.

  17. January 16th, 2011 at 1:31 am

    remove disk optimizer says:

    Congratulations to Max!

  18. January 16th, 2011 at 8:31 am

    remove disk optimizer says:

    Congratulations to Max!

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