The rain is coming down and I’m inside, poised to go against my younger brother once again in a familiar duel we played for hours as boys. It’s an ancient conflict of strategic offense, blocking defense, sacrifice for the good, unfortunate losses—and moves that promise the hope of becoming more.
As in any battle, this conflict comes with an adversary across the board who wants to stop you, block you, thwart you, capture your pieces, and eventually take you out.
Checkers may be the oldest game in the world. Original versions date back over three thousand years, with earliest evidence coming from an archeological dig in the ancient city of Ur. The game surfaces in the culture of the Roman Empire; fourth-century Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “Eternity is a child playing, play- ing checkers; the kingdom belongs to a child.” The game evolved, as you’d expect, with books on its rules and strategy written in Europe in the mid-1500s.
It’s a simple game, straightforward: move, survive, move again. Most of us were introduced to checkers when we were young and knew little of strategy or rules. We just understood one thing: If we could get safely to the other side, we would become something else—something new.
It’s a weighty moment when you navigate safely across the board and utter the words “King me.” In that short but glorious moment, you are transformed. You become more. And then . . . you are turned loose.
As a king.
Now you can range the board freely, ruling over it, and the prey becomes the predator, with two important results. You can see what your enemy is trying to do and take him out before he attacks your other pieces. And you can help those pieces become kings in their own right.