For a few hours every Sunday, my grandfather’s friends gather in the sun porch of our home to play chess. I usually see three pairs of white-haired men sitting across each other with a checkered board on the table. Sometimes, I bother to stand and observe the complexity of their game and watch grandpa who looks so entranced with the game.

It was grandfather who taught me how to play this classic board game. He had beaten me many times and he would always win within five moves. His victories had left me confounded as to how he did it.

Grandfather has long been passionate about this game. I could tell the signs. He has a shelf full of books about chess. His week won’t be complete without sitting down with his buddies to play chess. They are expected to be in their turf every Sunday afternoon come rain or shine. When we do activities together like fishing and going to weekend markets, he can be conscious about time. While my reason to rush home is to watch the basketball finals, his reason is his chess board and his chess buddies.

Last week, an unexpected major water leak happened at home. The kitchen and the dining hall were flooded with an almost two inches level of water. We planned to suspend any house activities to work together in scooping the water out. When all of us were in a state of confusion and disorder, my grandfather was real quick in calling the nearest plumber in Anniston. With a record-breaking time, the leak problem was fixed and the floor was dried up. Consequently, the little havoc in the house did not stop him from doing his favorite hobby. On that same day, he and his friends had a quiet afternoon concentrating on doing competitive matches of chess game. It was just another normal Sunday for them.

My grandfather used to play chess in a park in Anniston. Until now, the park is still filled with vintage old men tackling with black and white pieces along with coffee and cigarettes on their sides. But grandfather had stopped spending time in the park after he was diagnosed with pneumonia. The smog in the park was not good for him. He decided to just enjoy his hobby in the comfort of his home.

Watching old men play chess gave me a glimpse of the manly history and traditions. Men back in the day seemed to have sophisticated hobbies and interests. They chose hobbies that refresh them, keep their minds sharp, let them learn useful skills and expand their creativity. They view each leisure time as an opportunity to fine tune their minds and make them better men.

I am fortunate that my grandfather was able to pass on to me his knowledge about chess. He taught me how to think strategically in the game. Now, I learn to approach life in much the same way with playing chess. I have to watch carefully my intentions for the day and contemplate on things before moving to a decision.

One of his favorite videos about openings in chess is this one: