The Pawn’s Seventh Square

“Go.” Silence. “Seriously, hurry up Dad!!” As a twelve year old, I impatiently awaited my turn at chess. My father thought his move through, and then took a pawn with his knight, leaving my king in check and my queen in danger. I lost my queen the next move, and I lost the entire match in a few more.

Although my father is an accomplished chess player, he is also a role model for behavior and success. We have been playing chess against each other for many years; most of our matches taking place when we camp as a family on youthful Conway Lake. The lake is a relaxing getaway from the chaotic vortex of family matters, schoolwork, sports responsibilities, and the tempting technology that exists in my home town of Hull, Massachusetts. Without distraction, I am able to learn the hidden lessons that my father may or may not know that he is teaching. One thing that I have noticed is that when he makes mistakes (rarely), he does not become angry. Mistakes to him are simply a part of life that we all have to deal with. I learned to develop patience while he made his long moves after organizing the cold calculations in his head. Eventually as I grew up, I learned to strategize my own moves during this time instead of wasting it. Most importantly, I have learned to solve problems using the tools at hand.

Often in chess, one does not have every piece available as they attempt to assault their adversary’s king. If one stays positive and uses every piece to its fullest potential, however, it does not even matter which ones are used! This problem solving philosophy has enabled me to gain perspective and use all facets of available resources to create solutions to everyday challenges.

Everyone starts with the same tools that help them to get accepted to college; test scores, class rank, extracurricular activities. But what really matters is how the tools are used. Anybody can put up numbers, but behind the numbers, is there a face? Is there a personality? Is there an insatiable hunger, a ravenous desire for success? My name is Paul, I play to win, and I will take on all challengers.

Looking back at this past summer, I see encouraging growth within my own person. Seven squares later, I celebrated my first chess victory against my father. Through trial and error, failure and refinement, I have been able to overcome my obstacles. That same feeling of victory flows through me now as I envision college success. The feeling of knowing that I am up to the challenge of college is exhilarating, and it is time. I am ready to make my move.

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