Trying to Beat an Old Black Guy Again

by Regis Boff

The custodian of my college’s student union taught me how to play chess. The school gave me the job of sitting at the front door as an information person, which devolved rapidly from being helpful into getting stoned and playing chess with him all day. He was old, black and never once let me win. He said he used to play speed chess for money in the Village. He gave me the best piece of life advice I ever got using chess to drive his point home.
Chess is the most perfect game mankind has ever created. The only “advantage “ is who goes first, but even that disappears immediately because there is a perfect defense for every perfect offense.
He would ridicule me when I made a bad move telling me that, “I was trying to beat an old black guy again. He said, “No matter who you are, there are perfect moves you can make in your life and they can be discovered only if you are playing against the game itself and never while trying to beat another man.