It was the first day of spring vacation. Jan Hansen and her friend Sam Johnson were sitting on a bench in the middle of a busy shopping mall in Denver, Colorado. While Sam's mother was shopping, Jan and Sam were watching Sam's baby brother Andrew. Jan and Sam were playing a memory game. Sam's eyes were closed.
"What color of coat am I wearing?" Jan asked.
"Nope, I'm not wearing a coat. Ha, ha!"
Sam opened his eyes. "It's just not fair. I'll never have as good a memory as you!"
"You just have to keep practicing. You know, practice makes perfect. That's what my mother used to tell me when I thought I couldn't win at something," Jan said. "Now, you try me."
Sam looked around very hard for something he was sure Jan hadn't noticed. Then he asked, "What does the sign in the card store window say?"
"That's easy. 'Mother's Day Sunday May 11. Remember your mother and she'll remember you."
"Fine, you win," Sam said with disgust.
Jan still had her eyes closed. "Come on, try again. Go ahead, ask me something else."
"All right," Sam said. "What color socks am I wearing?"
Jan thought a moment. "That's not really fair," she said. "I never saw your socks."
But Jan didn't open her eyes. "You're wearing green pants, a green belt, and green shoes, so I'll bet your socks are green, too."
"You're just too much, Jan!"
"No, you're just too neat!"
I have never beaten my grandfather in chess and I probably never will. Despite my losing record, I have a burning love for the game.
It was probably four or five summers ago that my obsession began. I played my grandfather nearly every day. It started out as him just teaching me the rules with friendly games. After a few weeks it was more than that, at least to me. I wanted to dethrone him more than any other thing my young mind could think to want. I challenged him every chance I got.
He always seemed to see my strategy coming, and he was relentless. I think he took pride in beating up on me. He knew both the rook four and knight two strategies that I had because he had taught them to me. He never let up on me.
I needed to come up with a game plan. I needed to do some research. I left for the library as soon as the idea popped in my head. I hit the doors running after my mother parked the car. I cannot recall how many hours I spent at the library. It did not matter. I was looking for the perfect strategy. I thought I had found the perfect plan, so I headed home for my final showdown in chess.
It was about 8:00 when we got there. We started fishing. We had a kind of cycle where one casts out and lets it float away before the other. Then when you retrieve it, you go behind the other person.