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Why is he playing so stupidly?

Updated: Jul 14, 2021

TeghVir Singh our 6 year old grandson is an intelligent boy. With a sharp analytical mind it is but natural that when his father Mohit exposed him to chess, he would be fascinated by the game. He plays a fairly good game and his parents have hired a teacher to coach him.

Carrying his chess set wherever he goes, TeghVir is always looking for opponents to play with. Luckily for him most of us in the family play chess.

One day I was preoccupied with some thoughts, and TeghVir could not find any other opponent willing to take off time to play with him. Grandparents are expected to always be available on demand by their grandchildren. TeghVir nagged me until I agreed to play a game of chess with him. When I consented he quickly set up the board and we began to play.

I was so lost in thought that it was hard for me to focus and I played rather badly, making several mistakes, as a result TeghVir decimated my game in quick time. He could not understand why I was playing so badly. With each error I made, he asked me, "Daadu, why are you playing so stupidly?".

When he did not find any improvement he ran to my wife Mohini in the kitchen and complained, "Daadi, I don't know what is happening, can you find out why Daadu is playing so stupidly?" When he did not find a convincing reply he rushed to his mother Mohina and repeated the question. Everyone were amused to see how worked up the child got.

I imagined that the kid would be happy that he had destroyed me in chess, he would be happy to have beaten me, but this was not the case. I realised that TeghVir was subconsciously not keen on merely winning, but to triumph. That he won by overcoming a challenge and had thus improved himself and his game. For him it was an easy victory and therefore unworthy and unsatisfying.

In the evening when his father returned home from work, father and son greeted and hugged one another and immediately TeghVir began telling him about how badly I had played chess, "Momo, I don't know why Daadu played so stupidly. Can you please find out?"

Mohit with TeghVir in tow came up to meet me. We chatted and had an amusing time discussing how we spent the day and what happened. Then Mohit brought up his son's complaint, and how stupidly I had played.

Then Mohit asked me a question, "Dad, did you notice something special in TeghVir's complaint and concern? He has not criticised or attacked you, but your actions. This is the same lesson you taught me and Pavit, to aways criticise and attack the problem, never the person. This is what I have taught TeghVir and I am delighted to see that he has imbibed it and it has become part of his character and nature."

Wow! The seed was indeed growing into a beautiful young plant with fragrant flowers.


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