chessA few months ago I was downtown D.C. and as I came out of the restaurant there was a group of about 15 older black men on the corner playing Chess. They had 3 or 4 different games going on. No clock or judge, just some rickety worn out card tables and well used boards and pieces.

I have always been intrigued by the game although I barely know how to play. So I walked across the street to observe these players. You could tell they were seasoned by the time it took them to move their various pieces. I mean it looked like they barely had to think about it. But as I started to pay more attention I noticed that even though the moved quickly the games did not end quickly.

My attention was drawn to one particular intense game that had been going on for a while. As I surveyed the board I noticed that while both players had at least 10 or so pieces left on the board neither one of them had their queen but they seemed none the less disadvantaged. When I commented on how well he was playing without her he responded “Oh yeah, you have to learn how to fight without your Queen.

As I said I am hardly a player but this was certainly a revelation to me. In chess there are 16 pieces that make up a side. They all have various strategic strengths and weaknesses. The actual “person” who invented chess is not known but I would imagine that it was a man because all of the pieces in the game have a male or masculine designation, except one. There is only one piece in chess that has a female designation. The one piece that is a female is called the Queen and she is the most powerful piece on the board.

powerEven though when the game was first invented the Queen did not have all the power that she wields now the fact of the matter is that today, “she’s got the power!”

As I have pondered that revelation about playing without the most powerful piece on the board, I got another revelation about life. Over my short experience here on earth, I have heard many comparisons between chess and life. The one that particularly resonates with me is “Life is Chess not Checkers. No doubt this saying was derived from the strategic nature of life and chess. You have to think ahead and be prepared for things you have little control over. In chess, the other person’s move, in life, the other person’s moves.

While this older gentlemen was probably talking about chess, I am talking about life in general but relationships specifically. Now I know that my conclusion will get me in some hot water with some people but be that as it may it is still a hard truth and there is just no other way to say it. We live in a world where are young ladies are groomed and trained to be independent and even compete against men for equal “whatever.” We have created these distorted images of strength and called them the “strong black woman.“   Now before you pick up your stones, I am not saying that independence or equality is not needed or that strength is a construct but what I am saying unequivocally is that the truth of these things have been taken to unhealthy extremes.

Case and Point

run

Over my 17 years of marriage I have seen the resolve of several relationship pushed to the limits by both parties, including my own but today it just hit me. As powerful as the Queen is and all the havoc she can wreak on the opponents pieces. The existence and purpose for her power centers around one central duty and this one thing takes precedent over everything else. The goal of the game of course is to corner or capture your opponent’s king ironically enough called a “Check Mate,” but there is one thing that is even more important than using her power to “win” the game. You read right, there is something that is more important than making the moves necessary to win the game and a smart player will ever keep this all important fact in mind. This revelation hit me so hard that I will even go out on a limb and say, in life, a smart queen will come to this same realization.

The one thing that is more important than “winning” the game.
The undeniable hard truth that defines the purpose of all the power she exercises.
What stops all pieces including the Queen in their tracks.
The one job that supersedes being just a few moves away from even a check mate.
The duty that actually defines her existence is to protect her King.

chess kingAs I said he probably wasn’t talking about life but what his less than ten second life-altering lesson taught me is that

 

Chess…

 

Its not about the Queen!

About Author - Mad Hatter

  • Nia Black

    What a great read. I had just finished posting this when I read your article, ” In chess, every pieces serves a specific role, moves in a certain way, and serves a particular purpose. They all have various strengths and weaknesses. It takes a certain level of strategy and patience… As the Queen of my board I OWN my position. To play on my board, be certain of yours.

    And stop trying to playing checkers on a chess board.” Most people assumed I was taking the over used stance of FEMALE SUPERIORITY. That is not the case. I was attempting to touch (poetically) on some of the same points and perspectives you made in this article. Thank you.