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The love for the game is something I inherit from my father . My childhood was filled with his stories of him playing chess with all the champions of the city that time and always emerging as a hero.
I have always fancied the game from a very young age but interestingly, father never played with me and neither did he share any of his special tricks and tips.
I think the only tip he has ever given me is “don’t lose the knight too soon, he is the only game changer”
“I don’t believe in shiny knights who limp in their moves. I believe in Rooks the sturdy fat coins. They like to be ‘straight forward’ “I said to him.
And to me the real game changer is the pawn, who holds the power to exchange itself for a queen, if played smartly.
Father always addressed the queen as ‘wazir’ and strangely in the authentic game of‘shatranj‘ queen was one of the weak players who could only move one block per move whereas in the game of chess, queen is a powerful dame, It was the English who introduced queen to the game, the only female player.
Queen can move diagonally as well as in a straight pattern quite typically like women in the real world, who chose to combat their battles from all sides. I like to play my queen to threaten the opponent queen since the battles are fought among equals. In my opinion queen’s best defense is offence. I like to set my queen on a suicidal mission where in the only way to kill is to die.
It has been rightly said ‘queen gets her color’ in chess because she is indeed the most powerful piece of the game.
Father was always very imaginative while narrating his chess stories and I was even more of a visual story weaver, every time he would talk about the bishop, it would make me imagine “Qaido”(the villain in punjabi tragic romantic love story) limping his way on a mission to poison Heer.
Bishop also reminds me of Cassius for he looks “lean and hungry”. The fat and sleek headed rook is generally its first target.
Father still has many fascinating stories about impressing his lady love by defeating their revered fathers on a chess board. “women always prefer men with intellect over men with muscle” I tell him, that stands true for every generation. “Even men like women with intellect” he said to me, telling about an incident where he offered a game to a young lady and to his surprise, she nearly gave him a check mate.
“You cannot cheat in the game of chess”, he tells me but you have to outsmart your opponent.
My best opponent is my artificially intelligent phone but I wish to play opposite a strategist one day on a sheesham chesstable with hand carved pieces placed on the board, preferably in an open courtyard with water flowing in the background.
Thanks to the technology, chess boards are only part of fancy home decorsince there aren’t too many people who prefer chess over “candy crush”
Chess the game is about survival for the fittest and we all are part of the game or may be it is the other way. The women we pity stuck in large and loud joint families or the men trying to secure their promotion at work. They are all playing the game of survival, they are all playing with a singular goal of surviving and only if they could play with rules and outsmart their problems, they would know the victory.

I am still learning to be as good as father. I am still learning how to give checkmate and not stalemate to the opponent. I am still learning how to accept defeat. Father always says “every defeat makes you understand your opponent better”and I take that as the best tip of the game.