The special bond between children and their fathers, through chess

I was reading the January 2013 issue of “Chess Life” magazine (which you can read online as PDF if you are a USCF member) and couldn’t help notice that by sheer coincidence, two different articles happened to mention how the article’s subject was shaped through their experiences playing chess in their childhood with their fathers. I was very moved because I always get emotional when reflecting on how chess gave me a special bond to my father as well. Similar stories are often true for children and their parents, through any shared activity at all, whether music, hunting, cooking, baseball, sewing, auto repair, stargazing, etc.

Here are two excerpts from the articles:

Chess Life article excerpts

Corbin Seavers of The Potter’s House Scholastic Chess Club

Seavers, who was an anti-apartheid activist, formed The Potter’s House Scholastic Chess Club to reach out to children, especially low income and minority youth.

I only cared about chess because my father cared about chess. I only learned the game because my father taught it to me. That is why today I tell fathers chess is one way you can build a common interest and hobby with your child. It brought my father and me closer together, and I can say that it has definitely helped me in building a closer relationship with my daughter.

Alejandro Ramirez, young Grandmaster

GM Ramirez achieved the GM title at age 15. In the article about him, he said quite a bit about the role of his father in his life and chess career. An excerpt:

My dad was instrumental in my development as a person and as a chess player. Despite the fact that he can't really see tactics or see more than a few moves ahead, he has a deep understanding of psychology and can sense positions quite well. If I explain a game to him, he can infer things I can't see, such as the mood of the player, the causes for blunders and many others.

My father and chess today

Heck, when I called home to my parents today, I asked my father whether he might start playing in chess tournaments again. It’s been a long time (about thirty years) since we used to play in tournaments together. If he were living near me, I’d be dragging him to the local tournaments that I have been playing in again. I think it’s great that he has been playing regularly for fun again after retiring, but there’s nothing like playing in an actual tournament, ha!

Next time I see him, I’ll be sure to show some of my recent games to him, so we can laugh and talk s-t about the dumb moves I made or my opponent made. He likes seeing games. Every time we see each other, I give him all the issues of “Chess Life” that I’ve accumulated since the last visit.

My sister and chess

My younger sister also played chess, but retired at the age of six, after her very first tournament, the Michigan Youth Championship, in which she played well and won a trophy. This is a sad story that was very instrumental in the development of her life, but since it is her story, I need to ask her whether I can tell it someday.


When you think about your childhood, what do you remember as being special and formative between you and your father or mother? Have you ever thanked them for what they gave you? Very often they might not even realize how important something was to you. Don’t wait until it is too late to show them your gratitude.

And if you are a parent, what do you think your children really appreciate about their relationship with you? You might be surprised. It might even be something that you think is trivial that they never talk about but is actually the most important thing to them.

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