About Me

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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Worship Leader Remarks: 6-6-10, Chess and Me

I am playing chess with a middle school student
(Each Sunday, one lay member of my church, Mayflower Congregational, is given the opportunity to make some brief remarks before the offering is taken. Last Sunday, I spoke about my enthusiasm for the game of chess.)

I’m going to talk about the game of chess. I’ve taken an interest in the royal game. I’m still not very good at it, couldn’t tell you the difference between the Queen’s gambit declined and the Nizmo-Indian defense. But I enjoy playing it. I am the sponsor of my middle school/high school chess club, which has had a positive effect on our students’ behavior and learning.

Chess appeals to many of my interests: history, the arts, learning, and, yes, even politics. The history of the game goes back 1500 years to India, probably. In that time there have been only 3 or 4 major rule changes in how it is played. In arts like literature, chess has played a role in works as varied as “Through the Looking Glass” to “1984”. It is the subject of 1000s of books including game theory, psychology, and education. Chess improves logic, and creativity. And Chess has had its political side also. Those of my generation remember the “Cold War on the Chess Board” between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky. When I read accounts of that famous match I realize that my sympathies should have been with the Russain Spassky who was a perfect gentleman and sportsman throughout the match as opposed to the paranoid, egomaniac Fischer.

Chess has also affected by gender politics. The biggest change in how the game is played came about in the 16th century when a piece known as the “minister”, that didn’t move much, became the most powerful piece on the board, the Queen. Women chess grandmasters, like Susan Polgar, are helping to produce a new generation of female chess players.

This summer, I am going to try to develop a chess club at the Village Library starting a week from Friday on June 18. If you have a child interested in the game, or you want to participate yourself, let me know.

Now it’s time for our offering, time for you to make you’re move and put in your check, mate.