The summer came to an end and September rolled around like it always does. I started a new school year at Lansdowne Middle School in the gifted program. The kids in my class were mostly my friends from elementary school. Some of them were the smart kids, but the others were just ordinary kids like me. I figured either, I was as smart as Mark Holt or he was as slow as me. I chose to believe the former. Our 7th grade class was considered the smart kids in the school and I was one of them. I liked that.
During the second week of middle school the conspiracy began. My social studies teacher, Mr. Allen Magarian, held a chess tournament in his classroom. He invited all of the kids to his classroom after school to play chess. The winner of any game would receive a Snickers Chocolate Candy Bar. For a sugar addicted adolescent the promise of a Snickers Bar was like the rising of the Sun one day after the end of the world. This was a motivation enough to come to school, let alone a reason to stay after. Nearly the entire gifted class, boys and girls, stayed after school to play chess for a chance to win Snickers Bars.
It was in these after school competitions that I realized the power of practice. Of the 30 or more 7th graders competing for candy prizes, I left daily with at least 3 candy bars. I was better than the other kids, because I practiced more than the other kids. And when it looked like they were catching up, I played and practiced more.
I soon employed a strategy that I still practice today. This is lesson #2. I will share it with you tomorrow. I call it, The Chess Partner challenge.
If you would like to have a list of the next 10 Character Lessons from chess, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org