The Spiritual Significance of Chess

Photo by PIRO4d /

On a recent Saturday afternoon I was at my friend John’s home where I sat across the table from his son, Frances, who has just turned five. Between us lay a chess board, all the pieces standing in their rightful places. You see, this little boy has a precocious skill and passion for chess, and I had come to his home largely for the reason of engaging him in a game.

In 30 minutes it was over. Okay, maybe I haven’t played chess in 30 years, and I never was great at it, but I do know the moves and I don’t think I was ever terrible. But this little boy cleaned my clock in 30 minutes, checkmate, game over.

As I was peddling home afterward I got a text message from my friend John. He wrote that, after I left, Frances told him that I was his best friend. I smiled at the thought. A little focused time with a child, affirming his value, encouraging him in his skill…perhaps a bit of love was transmitted, and he had caught it.

Every opportunity to transmit value to people is a reflection of God and the value He places on His children.

Years ago I would have given this experience very little value in the sense of spiritual significance. Now I see it differently. Every opportunity to transmit value to people is a reflection of God and the value He places on His children. Walls break down and when that happens, fruit starts to ripen. It dare not be a ploy. It must come from the heart. The wonderful thing is that we all have such opportunities—different and varied as they may be—every day.

David Williams is an English teacher who is discovering the fun of playing chess.

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