Early into my tenure at the public library, my boss began the great search to find someone in the children’s department who could run/teach the youth chess program. One by one, she asked staff members if they would take on this all important job, and every reaction was the same. The staff member being queried would get a fearful look in their eyes as if they were being asked to defuse a bomb. Then they would frantically stammer that they didn’t know how to play chess and couldn’t possibly learn the game for various reason. Grimly, the boss would move on to the next person, and the next.
As I was at the bottom of the totem pole at the time, I was the last to be asked. My reaction to the offer was the same as the others:
“You want me to do what?!”
“Stop hyperventilating, I’m not asking you to defuse a bomb…”
“I’m too old to learn the game!”
“27 is not too old.”
“But I don’t know the first thing about chess!”
“Well then,” said my boss, “you’d better learn real quick. The job is yours.”
So I checked out a children’s book about chess, and the rest is history.
I have to say, there’s nothing more intimidating than teaching chess to a room full of grade schoolers who pretty much understand the game better than you do, but I persevered, and now I can teach the basics of chess to children and adults with a certain degree of confidence. As for my own prowess on the board, well…I’ve learned that there are a lot of ways to lose.