My father bought me my first chess set when I was in primary school. He taught me how to play the game and I was instantly hooked. I played against my school friends and soon became quite good at it. I even reached a stage where I could beat my father (although I still can never beat him in the other popular board game of draughts, or more well-known in Malay as dam haji... yang tu memang dia terrer).
As I entered secondary school, I became more engrossed in the game as I meet more challenging and skillful opponents. There was this one time during school holidays, my cousin and I stayed at our grandmother's kampung house to look after her. My grandmother did not have a television, so we spent the nights playing chess. Our skill level was almost equal so the games we played were never one-sided. I became so focused in playing chess to the extent that planning the possible moves and tactics made its way into my dreams. I asked my cousin if he also similar dreams and he said yes.
When I entered adulthood, I played against even stronger opponents... until I reached a point when the game no longer was fun. It was the instant when I realised that I could fairly predict what my regular opponent's next move would be. This feeling would extend beyond the game itself, i.e. to every day situations. Very eerie.
I concluded that if I could sort of read my friend's mind, then he could probably read mine too. This, I don't want to happen... so I stopped playing the game, at least against regular human opponents. To this day, the game of chess no longer interests me.
It has long puzzled me why the strongest piece on the chess board is the Queen. She can move in any direction and as many squares as she pleases. The King, on the other hand, can only move one square at a time. When my father was teaching me the game, I asked him why this is so. Don't know, he said. Maybe it reflects real-life situation. I didn't quite understand it at that time, but as the years passed, I guess there is some truth in that.
Which now allows me to close this post with a quote I read somewhere recently : Never trust a man who says he is the king of his household. He could be lying about other things too...