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Daddy’s prize ivory chess set made by an old Chinese craftsman in the 1930s, before the Japanese occupation. I bought it when I visited Shanghai while in the Navy The set cost $75—a pricey sum in 1947. It was carried back in my handsome wood carved sea chest.


 

A Regrettable Chess Match
 


Daddy’s prowess in chess continued until near his death when I innocently killed some of his enthusiasm for the game. I regret what I did. On one of my trips home, I brought along an electronic chess board. The board had proficiency levels from about 1 to 6 as I recall, and just to give Daddy an easy match I set the proficiency down to 2. Daddy started out confidently and had some early success but he eventually made one little mistake, and the unforgiving electronic board beat him.

He had previously gloated about the “one little mistake” that his opponents made, which cost them the game. Now the “one little mistake” had backfired. Electronic games don’t make mistakes.

After that fatal play when Daddy was checkmated, I pushed the button to restore the board but by accident I pressed the button to replay the game. The pieces automatically moved to their starting positions and mechanically repeated the game we had just played.

Daddy looked in awe at the chess board. He said, “Why, those are the very moves we just made. This machine is repeating them one for one, just as we played. I can hardly believe my eyes! How does it do that? It looks like I have just outlived my times; electronics is something I just won’t ever be able to comprehend.”

That was one of Daddy’s last chess games; he had very little opportunity to play after that.

 
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