I'm not sure what age it started, but when I was growing up as a kid, once every few weeks I played chess with my Dad.
We would sit down, setup the board, my father would pick up two pawns, put them behind his back, and he would ask me to pick.
Sometimes I picked white. Sometimes I picked black.
It didn't really matter. We just played.
No matter how it began, I always tried my hardest to win. No matter how hard I tried, however, I never came out on top.** No matter what, at the end of any game, no matter how heated things got, we always shook hands.
As I got older I started to see the gears turning in my Dad's head, I started figuring out the subtleties of the game. One day the unthinkable happened.
For a brief moment I remember being so happy. And then I realized things had just changed. I beat my father in chess. And like always we shook hands.
Fast forward 20-ish years... I have a 5 year old daughter.
Last weekend I played Old Maid with her for the first time. We were sitting on a lawn on top of a blanket and I dealt the cards. While Old Maid is no Chess there is some strategy involved and after the first game my daughter figured it out.
I saw the gears turning in her head. I saw her figuring it out.
I saw her trying to win.
Well, she lost two games and then... won one! She was so happy and proud, but I could tell she realized something. She beat her dad.
Taking a step back from my Old Maid extravaganza, what came back to me from chess games with my father, was that losing really does teach you how to win. What you do when you win is just as important as what you do when you lose.
When my daughter beat me in Old Maid, you know what we did? We shook hands.
I can't wait to to play her in chess!
** My father might have let me win once to give me a taste of winning, but modus operandi was he tried to win. So did I.