Gente que Cuenta

Chess lesson,
by Leonor Henríquez

David Michael Hinnebusch Atril press
David Michael Hinnebusch,
Chess on a Boot, 2017

leer en español

      My brother Rafael (RIP) taught me how to play chess when I was just about six years old.

I hadn’t played in a lifetime, but someone close asked me if I could teach him, and so I did.

I explained the basics, how to place the pieces on the board and the movements of each one. I emphasized to him that the game consists of ensuring that the opponent’s King has no possible escape.

Recently, this person told me that he was ready for a game.

We sat face to face. He chose the white ones and of course, I was that confident, I had no problem with him coming out first.

The battle began.

In my desire to educate him, I began to offer him my comments.

  • Let’s see, remember that, in each move of the opponent, you have to evaluate which pieces he is threatening you and what the intention is.

He listened attentively without saying a word.

  • You have to make space for the bishop. You don’t want to take the Queen out prematurely.

From time to time, I heard a faint: Umhaa…

  • If you know you’re going to have to backtrack, it’s best not to spend a turn on it.
  • Umhaa…
  • You have to try to leave space for the Towers so that they can support each other, because that is how they are powerful.

I was amazed at my opponent’s attention span.

Then suddenly, in the middle of my speech, I heard:

  • Checkmate, Nana.
  • What? – I said.

Indeed, my King had no escape.

My seven-year-old grandson Tomás burst out laughing and told me:

  • Nana, you have to talk less and pay more attention.

The best chess and life lesson I have ever received.

www.atril .press Leonor Henríquez e1670869356570

Leonor Henríquez (Caracas, Venezuela) Civil Engineer by training (UCAB 1985), writer and apprentice poet by vocation. From her time in engineering emerged her Office Stories (1997), another way of seeing the corporate world. Her latest publications include reflections on grief, Hopecrumbs (2020) ( and “The Adventures of Chispita” (2021) ( an allegory of life inside Mom’s belly.
Today she shares her “impulsive meditations” from Calgary, Canada, where she lives.

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