Yesterday, Mr. P talked me into playing chess with him. I figured he'd beat me easily because he has actual strategy (of a sort). And certainly an aggressive offense! But somehow, I beat him twice. Probably because several times I'd be about to make a move and he'd say, "Not a good idea!" and then explain everything to me. And I'd make my final move and not even realize I had him trapped until he went, "Oh. You win," and disappointedly knocked over his king. He is definitely the better player.
I remember as a kid being fascinated by chess. The pieces with their cool names and shapes, the very serious way my dad would sit silently across from one particular friend for hours the few times we visited, each of them making their moves at ponderously glacial speeds. Dad taught me the rules and I know we played a few times, but in the end I'd rather design a chess set than actually play chess. I liked setting up the board but could never get excited about playing.
Mr. P is a different matter. He's playing a correspondence game with his uncle now, over the ether through an app on my phone. It's fun and lump-in-the-throat-inducing to imagine how he'd surely be playing one against my dad, too, if Dad were still with us. And I was imagining a few weeks ago, when Apple announced their new programming language and the interactive tools for playing with it, that maybe in retirement Dad would have fiddled with programming again. His one program back in a college course was one that moved a knight around on a chess board.